Red-hot Alliance juniors rolling into B-7 area tournament

Alliance’s Victor Hinojosa celebrates with Kellen Muhr after he scored during a junior legion baseball game against the WESTCO Express earlier this season. The Spartans are the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Class B Area 7 junior tournament. 

SIDNEY — The Alliance First National junior legion baseball team is on a tear, winning 12 of its last 13 games, including three straight.

But that doesn’t mean anyone on the team is expecting to breeze through this weekend’s Class B Area 7 tournament in Sidney.

The Spartans are the No. 1 seed with a 26-10 record but every team in the bracket has played them close in the last few weeks. Taking a team lightly isn’t an option if they want to win a fourth straight Area 7 championship.

Head coach Steve Gullion knows that every team in the bracket has the capability to upset the Spartans.

“Everybody starts with a 0-0 record,” Gullion said. “We try not to take anybody lightly. We’ve played close games with all the teams. Gering beat us once, we had a close game with Chadron the last time we played them and Sidney we had a pretty close game too.”

Still, with the Spartans’ offense firing on all cylinders in the last few weeks, Gullion said the Spartans feel good about their chances this weekend. That’s pretty easy to do, considering that Alliance’s high-powered offense has racked up 131 runs in the last 13 games.

“I feel good about the place that we’re at right now,” he said. “We’ve made big improvements throughout the year. I think the boys are feeling good about themselves and we’ll see if we can do some damage.”

Alliance’s pitchers have been filling up the strike zone and the offense is taking care of business. It also doesn’t hurt that the Spartans are no strangers to the postseason experience. Gullion hopes that Alliance can take advantage of the experience that the team has gained in the past few years at the area, and state, tournaments.

“I hope we have that advantage, we have quite a few kids that played with us last year at the district and state tournaments, so I hope they can take advantage of that experience they had last year.”

As the No. 1 seed, Alliance will face Sidney’s second team in the opening round at 4 p.m., Friday.

Typically, the top seed in the tournament receives a bye in the first round, but Gullion said the extra game might do the Spartans a favor, getting a few extra innings in to knock out the “postseason jitters.”

No. 2 Ogallala will face No. 5 Chadron at 1 p.m. and No. 4 Gering B&C Steel will face No. 3 Sidney 1.

The tournament will start Friday with the championship game (or games) set for Monday at 4 p.m. All games will be located at the Sidney Legion Park.

The winner of the area tournament advances to the state tournament. McCook is set to host state, from July 20-24.

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Sports Reporter

Preston Goehring is a staff reporter at the Star-Herald. Contact him at 308-632-9051 or by email at preston.goehring@starherald.com.

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