SYRACUSE – Pender used a three-run first inning to turn away Twin River here at Veterans Field in Syracuse in the opening round of the Class C Senior Nebraska American Legion baseball tournament by a 5-2 final.
After Chis Rutar held Twin Rivers batters to one run in the opening frame, Post 55 came to life in the bottom of the first to take a lead.
“We have some experience down here so I wouldn’t really say we had nerves,” Pender coach Clay Haymart said. “But scoring early really settles a team into the game and when you play with confidence – things usually go much better.”
Brady Oliver got things started for Pender with a single.
Lucas Vogt wasted little time moving Oliver along by smashing a double sending Oliver home for a 1-0 advantage.
Will Gatzemeyer kept the run going with a single then Devin Hegge clubbed a double to score Vogt and Gatzemeyer.
“We strung together some really good hits right away,” Haymart said. “It really got us going.”
Haymart went on to explain the timing was fortunate.
“It was good he jumped on them right away,” Haymart said. “Their pitcher settled in and shut us down for a while.”
Jaxson Hinkle gave up the first three runs but ended up holding Post 55 scoreless in the second.
Pender did manage a couple of runs in the third.
Vogt opened the inning with a single but was thrown out stealing by Twin River catcher, Brandon Miller.
Showing it was no fluke, Pender’s next batter, Gatzemeyer got aboard on a base on balls and tried to steal second.
Miller gunned him down to again clear the base paths.
The two caught stealings prevented an even bigger inning but Post 55 rallied with the two outs to score two additional runs.
Hegge wrapped a single leading to a double by Hunter Ferguson which sent Hegge around to score. Ferguson would later score on a passed ball before a strikeout ended the inning.
Twin River Post 144 and 263 weren’t quite done.
The Titans got a single from Blake Booth with two outs after Pender got a put out at first and an outfield out on a force-play when Nick Ramaekers singled but had to hold up on a pop fly.
Vogt came on in relief for Post 55 and shut the titans down in the sixth and seventh innings.
“We’ll need to be sharp again tomorrow,” Haymart said. “Either team we will play is going to a great team.”
Pender is set to take on the 7 p.m. game winner between Syracuse and DCB.
TR 010 010 0 – 2 5 3
P 302 000 X – 5 6 2
WP: Chris Rutar LP: Jaxson Hinkle
2B: TR- Blake Booth; Hinkle; P- Devin Hegge (2); Lucas Vogt.