WAVERLY — The Pierce Juniors had their hot streak put to a halt by the Beatrice Neapco Juniors on Monday, who beat them 5-1 in their Class B state tournament clash.
Pierce had won its past five games leading up to the contest, along with 18 of its last 19. Each team went in as the only ones who had yet to lose in the bracket.
Jaxson Blackburn hit a single to start the top of the first and then advanced all the way to third base on a pickoff gone wrong. Two batters later, Deegan Nelson drove him home on a fielder’s choice and Beatrice took a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, Pierce’s Travis Emory singled to open the frame, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jackson Wachholtz and Keenan Valverde then singled to load the bases.
With Bode Hoffmann at bat, Trevin Lang threw a wild pitch, allowing Emory to score the tying run. Hoffmann then struck out and Michael Kruntorad stranded the two remaining runners to end the frame.
A pitching change awaited Beatrice in the top of the third as Wachholtz came in for Haiden Magnussen, who had thrown 30 pitches up to that point.
Wachholtz would give up two singles and Nelson came through for Beatrice again, this time giving it a 2-1 lead with a sacrifice fly.
Taking out Magnussen at the time allows Pierce to use him in its next game on Tuesday, when he won’t exactly have a tight leash.
“He can go as many as he wants tomorrow up to 105 (pitches),” coach Mike Emory said. “We’re happy about that.”
Emory led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Dawson Raabe. After a walk to Wachholtz, a strikeout of Valverde and a walk to Hoffmann. Kruntorad came to the plate with the bases loaded.
With the count at 2-2, Kruntorad swung and missed at a pitch upstairs. Beatrice tagged Pierce for one run in the fifth and two more in the seventh before the day was done.
“We just didn’t hit a lot of barrels. Their kids did a nice job of spotting pitches, and they made the plays,” Emory said. “If they boot a couple of groundballs like we did, maybe we scratch a couple of runs across, too.”
Pierce will now take on the host Waverly on Tuesday at 4 p.m. with a spot in the championship on the line.
Class B American Legion Juniors state tournament
Beatrice 101 001 2 — 5 9 1
Pierce 010 000 0 — 1 4 1
WP: Luke Feist
LP: Haiden Magnussen