SIDNEY — Facing one of the few opponents to hand his squad a loss in the regular season, Alliance head coach Steve Gullion knew his First National Spartans would be in for a tussle against Gering B&C Steel during the second round of the Class A, Area 7 Junior Legion Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon in Sidney.
He was right, but the Spartans were up to the task as they remained unbeaten in the tournament with a 2-0 shutout victory. Chance Crowe allowed just two hits and struck out six in the complete-game win on the mound.
The loss eliminated Gering from postseason play. B&C Steel, which dropped a heartbreaking 9-8 setback to Sidney in Friday’s first round, wrapped up the campaign with a final record of 8-20-1.
Gullion had nothing but praise for both Gering and his Spartans following the well-played contest.
“They were one of the few teams out here that beat us this year. If they lost their season was over, so we knew they would give us their best shot,” he said. “Their pitcher threw well also. We were able to manufacture a couple of runs and played good defense behind our pitcher. It was just a good game.”
Dalton Wiese also went the distance on the mound for Gering. He allowed just one earned run on seven hits and struck out three.
Alliance, which improved to 28-10 on the season, broke on top with the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning. Brantz Halouska singled and moved to third base on Mario Garza’s single. Halouska then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Victor Hinojosa.
The Spartans scratched across an insurance run in the sixth. Jaden Kelley singled, stole a pair of bases, and scored on a single by Kellen Muhr to make it 2-0. That proved to be plenty of offensive support for Crowe, who needed just 88 pitches to complete the contest.
“Our pitcher threw well and our defense really played well behind him,” Gullion said. “He’s been one of our top three or four all year. He threw strikes and made them put it in play.”
Muhr led Alliance at the plate with a pair of hits. Chase Boyer had the game’s only extra-base hit with a double. Kelley finished the contest with three steals.
Blake Green and Michael Rico collected Gering’s two hits. Tristin Strauch recorded a stolen base.
Alliance will next face Ogallala on Sunday at 4 p.m. Ogallala also is 2-0 in the tournament after posting an 11-3 win over Sidney’s No. 1 team on Saturday night. The Alliance-Ogallala winner will get a day off before playing for the championship on Tuesday.
Following a first-round loss to Ogallala on Friday, Chadron stayed alive in the tournament by registering a 16-1 win over Sidney’s second team also on Saturday. Zach Wordekemper allowed just two hits in five strong innings on the mound for the First Nationals. Chadron totaled 12 hits in the game.
Chadron and Sidney’s No. 1 team will face off in an elimination game Sunday at 7 p.m.
The tournament champion will advance to the state tournament in McCook.
Chadron 285 10 — 16 12 1
Sidney B 000 01 — 1 2 4
WP — Zach Wordekemper. LP — Jakob Meyer.
Gering 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Alliance 001 001 x — 2 7 1
WP — Chance Crowe. LP — Dalton Wiese.
2B — Alliance (Chase Boyer).
Sidney A 110 001 — 3 6 4
Ogallala 300 503 — 11 11 1
WP — Murphy. LP — Hashman.