The Norfolk Lammers Trailers/Elkhorn Valley Bank Seniors jumped out to an early lead, but one bad inning brought an end to their season after a 10-3 loss to Gretna in the fourth round of the Class A, Area 6 tournament at Veterans Memorial Park.
"We came out and we were ready to play," Norfolk coach Darrel Bradley said. "But Gretna's a well-put-together team and they have a great focus and mental approach to the game."
Norfolk was the visiting team and jumped out to an early lead. Jack Borgmann reached on an error, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Colton Price's single.
Price later scored on Brayden Lammers' single, and Jaydin Bartling, courtesy running for Ryland Bates, crossed home plate on Nolan Strand's groundout to give Norfolk a 3-0 lead before Gretna had its first at-bats.
Norfolk pitcher Grant Colligan was effective in the first inning, retiring Gretna without giving up a hit, but any chance of a Norfolk upset dissolved in the bottom of the second when the Sarpy County side batted around and scored seven runs on seven hits — all singles.
"They had a lot of bleeders go through, a couple of bloop shots that got them a few more runs than they probably should have," Price said.
"They knew what they were doing," Bradley said. "They weren't going to hit home runs off of us because we had a good approach ourselves, so they hit to the right side and got seven runs out of that."
Norfolk had a chance to cut into the 7-3 Gretna lead in the third. Bates singled and since he was also the catcher, Bartling replaced him on the bases again as a courtesy runner.
Bartling quickly stole second and then with two outs, Strand hit a bouncing shot up the middle that looked like a sure base hit. But Bartling chose to run back toward second base and was hit with the batted ball.
By rule, Strand was credited with a base hit, but Bartling was ruled out and the Norfolk threat was over.
Colligan gave up a pair of runs in the third before Bradley replaced him with Lammers, who worked the rest of the game by giving up one run on three hits, while walking one and striking out four.
Meanwhile, Norfolk could manage just one hit — a Lammers single in the sixth — the rest of the night and Gretna advanced with the 10-3 win.
Despite the loss, Strand said he wouldn't want to play with any other team. "I love baseball, I love Norfolk. I don't regret anything, we made a lot of good memories," he said.
Bradley said the team finally gelled about halfway through the season and started to play as a team. "That's what the success is. That's what the win is for this group, just how well they've made adjustments and done what was asked of them."
Norfolk ended its season with a record of 16-19.
Gretna was to have squared off with Fremont beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park. A Fremont victory would require a second game immediately following the first one. Meanwhile, Gretna needed just one win to secure the area title.
Class A, Area 6 American Legion Seniors
Norfolk 300 000 0 — 3 7 3
Gretna 072 010 x — 10 13 2
WP: Charles Thomas
LP: Grant Colligan