NC Juniors end season one game short of state

Kirt Manion
Nebraska City News-Press

Nebraska City’s Class B Area tournament experience ended one win short of the state tournament on Wednesday night after a set back to Beatrice in the winner-take-all championship game.

The NC Juniors won three straight games by one-run margins to put themselves in position to win the Area tourney, but fell by one to Plattsmouth on Tuesday night before Wednesday’s loss to Beatrice.

NC Junior Coach Drew Southard said the NC Juniors team had much to celebrate even though the squad didn’t make it to state.

Three wins are nothing to take lightly.

“It’s hard to win in districts. Every game is a battle,” said Coach Southard. “I am happy how we competed every night.”

The coach pointed out the youth of his roster with a number of first-year competitors and, despite that youth, Nebraska City turned its record around from just a few wins in 2019 to an 18-10 final mark following the action Wednesday.

Districts provided a fitting send off with the wins and the way the team battled to the finish, even in the loss to Plattsmouth.

What wes most memorable? Coach Southard said the Springfield opener was definitely one to remember as the Juniors came back late and got the win on a walk-off hit.

But the Beatrice on Monday win might have been the sweetest. 

“The Beatrice game—we knew they were a really good team,” Coach Southard said, noting that it took a full-game of battling to get the W. “That was probably one of the highlights of the year.”

Keston Holman, who was noted by NC Junior opponents as one of the best pitchers they had seen this summer, had an impressive outing against Beatrice and also scored the winning run for the NC Juniors.

The youth, great pitching, more wins—all of that points to great seasons to come.

Coach Southard is excited about that, but he’ll remember this year too.

“I had a lot of fun this year,” Coach Southard said.

In the end, that’s at least a major consideration for any team. To have fun, and also to win a lot, that’s a pretty complete package.

Plattsmouth 11, Juniors 10

Nebraska City lost by one run on Tuesday against Plattsmouth in a game that would sent the tourney host team to the title game regardless of the result. Had Nebraska City won, Beatrice would have needed back-to-back wins over Nebraska City to get to state.

The loss instead sent Nebraska City to a winner-take-all championship game on Wednesday, where it would await the winner of a clash between Plattsmouth and Beatrice.

Nebraska City finished with 10 runs on eight hits with seven errors.

Junior pitchers Cael Kreifel had a home run. Hayden Coyle had two doubles and Jackson Kreifel had two singles. Keston Holman, Tristin Kingery and Nolan Beccard had singles.

Miles Draus, Ben Chaney, Jackson Kreifel and Kingery combined to allow 11 runs, one earned, on five hits.

Beatrice 7, Juniors 0

Nebraka City was held to just two hits in the winner-take-all championship game on Wednesday. Hits were by Tristin Kingery and Jackson Kreifel. 

Cael Kreifel pitched 5.1 frames, struck out four, walked three and allowed six runs, two earned, on seven hits. Hayden Coyle pitched 1.2 frames, struck out three, walked none and allowed an earned run on two hits.

Pictured is the line up card for the Nebraska City Juniors for Wednesday's championship game at the Class B Area tournament at Clemmy Holmes Field.
Hayden Coyle throws the ball from his position at short stop.
Tristan Kingery tags out a Beatrice runner at the plate.
Cael Kreifel lays off a high pitch from the Beatrice hurler.
Pictured is the Nebraska City American Legion Juniors baseball team with their Class B Area runner-up plauqe.