Nebraska City battled back hard on back-to-back days to open the high school baseball season.
That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, Nebraska City’s foes developed leads that withstood the Pioneer rallies as Elkhorn Mount Michael and Elkhorn South won decisions at Clemmy Holmes Field on Thursday and Friday.
The Pioneers struck first on Thursday to lead 1-0, but Mount Michael scored five straight runs, including four in the third inning. A seven-run inning put Mount Michael up 12-1 going to the final half inning.
Nebraska City did post a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, leaving the Pioneers with a 12-3 loss.
On Friday, Elkhorn South scored the first eight runs of the game and enjoyed a shut out through three innings.
Jace Becker’s impressive grand slam home run put the Pioneers back into the contest in the fourth inning. Nebraska City scored three more runs in the game, but so did the visiting Storm and the final score left the home team down 11-7.
“Both days we battled back at the end of the game and didn’t give up, which is encouraging,” said Coach Tom Bales.
At the same time, the Pioneer coach said his team needed to avoid the big innings that require significant come-from-behind efforts.
“We’re giving them too much of the plate, We are giving them walks,” said Bales. “When you are playing good teams, that will come back to haunt you.”
On the positive side, Nebraska City’s offensive production was improved Friday. Coach Bales said Becker made a good batting adjustment that led to his grand slam homer success.
The improvement has got to continue.
“We are still a work in progress,” Bales said. “We’ve got to figure out our pitching rotation. We’ve got to come up with more clutch hits.”
Pitching wise, the Nebraska City team got a number of players onto the mound on both days of the season opening doubleheader.
Bales said a number of factors played into his pitching decisions, but the coach also noted that he just wanted to see some guys get work on the mound. With new pitch count rules in place to protect pitchers, Nebraska City will need contributions from more players this year.
“We were trying some different guys that we’ve been working with,” said Bales, noting that the outings will help the Pioneers determine their pitching possibilities going forward.
Nebraska City will return to action for a game on the road on Monday with a 4:30 p.m. start at Bennington. Tuesday has the Pioneers returning home for a 4:30 p.m. clash with Omaha Roncalli.

Mount Michael 12, NCHS 3
Hitting leaders were Brennen Bales, 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI;  Blake Shallenberger, 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI; Garrett Bassinger, 1-for-3 with a double; and Hayden Miller, 1-for-3. Pitching wise, Jared Nemec threw three frames, struck out one, walked two and allowed four earned runs on five hits. Bassinger pitched 3.1 innings, struck out one, walked five and allowed six runs, four earned on five hits. Miller pitched two outs and allowed two unearned runs on two hits.

Elkhorn South 11, NCHS 7
Hitting leaders were Jace Becker, 2-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBI; Andrew Harrah, 2-for-3 with a double; Hayden Miller, 2-for-4; Jared Nemec, 1-for-2 with an RBI; Jake Kreifel, 1-for-3 with an RBI; and Thomas Ragland, 1-for-3. Harrah was the Pioneers’ starting pitcher. He threw 2.2 frames, struck out three, walked one and allowed eight runs, four earned, on five hits. Becker worked three frames, struck out two, walked one and allowed one earned run on three hits. And Kreifel pitched 1.1 frames, struck out two, walked five and allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits.