CREIGHTON — Pender couldn’t find a way to slow down Malcolm’s run through the Class C American Legion Juniors state tournament on Wednesday.
Malcolm scored in every inning and capped off a 10-2 victory on Hayden Frank’s grand slam in the bottom of the fifth.
That kept Malcolm (23-1-2) the only undefeated team in the tournament entering Thursday’s 5 p.m. championship game against Imperial while also bringing Pender’s season to a close.
“They’re just good,” Pender coach Ron Williams said. “You can’t make many mistakes against them. They remind me a lot of Wayne. Wayne is a very solid team, and you’re going to have to play your best ball.
“(Malcolm) is very skilled, very talented. You can tell that. They have a big enrollment down there, and a lot of them play travel ball. That’s not a luxury a lot of teams up here have had. All of that builds.”
Since entering the ninth inning of its tournament opener against Wakefield in a scoreless deadlock, Malcolm has put up 32 runs over 16 innings.
The offense kept clicking against Pender. Four of Malcolm’s 13 hits went for extra bases.
Carson Frank went 4 for 4 while Hayden Frank’s blast over the fence in left field ended the contest via the eight-run mercy rule with one out in the fifth.
“I thought our pitching was fine,” Williams said. “We just had a couple of errors that hurt you. It’s always about the specific point and time. An error with nobody on generally won’t hurt you. But when there are and you get some walks, that will hurt you.”
Trailing 5-0, Pender plated a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Tyler Olson singled and went on to score on a wild pitch while Alex Roth doubled and came home on an Owen Kneifl sacrifice fly.
But Pender couldn’t find a way to generate enough offense to remain alive for the last day of the season.
“I’m proud of these boys,” Williams said. “We’re trying to continue the legacy of getting to state. In the last 12 years, I think we’ve done that at least 10 times between the two teams (Juniors and Seniors). If Seniors get there this year, it’ll be the fourth time in the last 11 that we’ve both been there.”
Pender (18-7) lost only to the two finalists in the state tournament. It also suffered two defeats during the regular season to Wayne, which finished third in Class B.
“Four of those losses against those teams — who is going to complain?” Williams said. “Not me.”
Pender 000 20 — 2 6 3
Malcolm 113 14 — 10 13 0
WP: Owin Little. LP: Tyler Olson. 2B: (P) Alex Roth; (M) Mason Wisnieski, Garrett England; Owin Little. HR: (M) Hayden Frank.