The Norfolk American Legion Juniors 16-and-under team snapped a six-game losing streak and set a season high in runs scored on Thursday in a doubleheader sweep of the South Sioux City Siouxland Bank Post 307 Juniors, winning the first game 12-4 and the second game 12-2.
It was clear early on that this was not the same team that people had seen for the past couple of games. In the bottom of the first, Easton Sullivan hit a line drive that got past the left fielder, allowing him to circle the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
Four batters later, Jacob Colligan scored on a wild pitch and Carter Ramaekers scored on a throwing error. A single by Evan Harper, a triple by Dylan Viergutz and another error had Norfolk up 7-0 after just one inning.
Norfolk was far from done.
Zach Cordner singled to drive in Sullivan and Colligan in the second. C.J. Hoffman would then score on an error by the second baseman. Sullivan added another run in the bottom of the third after
South Sioux City threatened to keep the game going after putting up three runs in the fifth inning. However, Anden Schold came in as a pinch hitter and doubled home Ramaekers to walk it off.
Colligan and Tristan Kuehler each went two innings and allowed no earned runs. After Chase Bradley came on in the fifth and failed to record an out, Sawyer Wolff came on in relief and went two innings, striking out four. Sullivan and Cordner each drove in two runs.
Norfolk had no intention of taking their foot off the gas in the second game. A triple by Sullivan and a double by Colligan had the Juniors ahead again in the bottom of the first. In the second, a double by Dylan Viergutz, a single by Colligan and a double by Hoffman made it a 6-0 ballgame.
Hoffman went four innings, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out seven in the win. Over the course of the two games at the plate, he had three hits — including two doubles — scored two runs and drove in one.
In the eyes of coach Jerrett Mills, what aided the pitching staff the most on Wednesday was its ability to throw more first-pitch strikes, which gave them options to do more of what they wanted to do.
“Our pitchers are capable of that,” he said. “We’ve just got to give them more reps.”
When it came to hitting, the approach was actually quite similar. The team was more aggressive early in the count and hit more balls up the middle. Most importantly, the hitters were able to use this to score runners, something they had been looking to do all season.
“When we’d get a runner in scoring position, we‘d leave a lot of runners on,” Mills said. “But tonight I thought we put up enough runs to win baseball games.”
The Norfolk Juniors aim to keep the momentum going on Saturday when they host Gretna at Veterans Memorial Park. The first game will get underway at 1 p.m. and the second at 3 p.m.
South Sioux City 001 030 X — 4 4 8
Norfolk Juniors 731 001 X — 12 10 4
W: Grant Colligan
L: D.J. Helms
—2B: (NOR) Jacob Colligan, C.J. Hoffman, Anden Schold, Easton Sullivan; 3B: (NOR) Dylan Viergutz.
South Sioux City 000 02 — 2 4 0
Norfolk Juniors 240 6X — 12 15 0
W: C.J. Hoffman
L: Domonick Moriston
—2B: (NOR) Jacob Colligan, C.J. Hoffman, Evan Harper, Hunter Phillips; 3B: (NOR) Easton Sullivan.