The Pinnacle Bank Irish Juniors have had an up and down past couple of weeks as they prepare for the Area Tournament in Central City starting on July 11th. The Irish Juniors currently stand with a 10-9 record as they head into Area play as the #4 seed in a 7-team tournament with a chance for a berth in the State Tournament. The Irish start tournament play on Friday at 2:00 pm as they battle #5 seed Aurora. The #1 seed in the Area Tournament is Albion, a team the Irish downed 7-6 earlier in the season.
The Irish dropped a double-header to Bloomfield/Wausa on June 24th by scores of 10-3 and 7-5. In game 1 the Irish faced a big tough lefty from Bloomfield/Wausa who stymied the Irish bats. The Irish were only able to come up with three hits from Austin Hilker, Brenden Cleveland, and Nick Haburchak. In game 2, the Irish played better and just had a tough 2nd inning in which they gave up six Bloomfield/Wausa runs. Austin Hilker threw the complete game on the mound for the Irish and really competed well throughout this game. Justin Appleby went 3-4 to lead the offense while other Irish hits came from Alex Thramer, Devin Fritz, Nick Haburchak, and Bailey Thompson.
On June 25th, the Irish traveled to Ainsworth and dropped a tough game 13-12 to Ainsworth. The Irish were up in this one 10-3 but defensive miscues led to the Irish demise as they committed a season high seven errors. The Irish did pound out twelve hits in this game, but were unable to overcome the problems on defense. Alex Thramer, Deven Fritz, and Justin Appleby each had two hits for the Irish, while Brenden Cleveland knocked out three hits.
On June 30th, the Irish bounced back with a resounding 13-0 win over Stanton. The Irish got good performances on the mound from Wyatt Liewer and Devin Jurgensmeier and the Irish defense was solid to get the win. Offensive leaders were Devin Jurgensmeier, Walker Liewer, and Justin Appleby with two hits each. Zeb O’Bryan, Brenden Cleveland, and Nick Haburchak each had a hit to help pace the Irish offense.
The Irish kept up their winning ways on July 1st as they traveled to Hartington and won a great baseball game 2-1. Justin Appleby pitched a gem with a complete game 3-hitter and the Irish defense was stellar behind him as they committed zero errors and made many great plays, highlighted by two great game-saving catches in centerfield by Shayne Campbell, who also scored the winning run for the Irish in the 7th inning. Alex Thramer went 2-3 to help pace the offense and had the clutch two-out, two-strike single to right to score Campbell’s winning run. Brenden Cleveland also had two hits to pace the Irish offense. Appleby struck out 10 Hartington hitters on the night.
The Irish then hosted Randolph in the 1st round of the Elkhorn Valley League tournament on July 5th and the Irish pounded out a 14-6 win. The Irish pitching crew of Brenden Cleveland, Austin Hilker, and Devin Jurgensmeier held down the Randolph bats to get the win. Hilker was credit with the win on the mound while Jurgensmeier threw two great inning of relief to finish the game. Justin Appleby went 3-5 to pace the offense, while Austin Hilker was 2-4. The Irish also got hits from Walker Liewer, Deven Fritz, Devin Jurgensmeier, Nick Haburchak, Shayne Campbell, and Zeb O’Bryan to pace the 11-hit attack from the Irish bats.
On Monday night, July 7th, the Irish dropped the semi-final match-up in the Elkhorn Valley League Tournament to Creighton 11-2. The Irish were only able to get 4 hits off of Creighton ace Ryan Nuemann. Jurgensmeier, Haburchak, Thompson, and Campbell paced the Irish offensive attack. Creighton plated five 1st inning runs off the Irish, however Devin Jurgensmeier came on in relief and threw 4 really good innings to slow down Creighton while Wyatt Liewer held off Creighton for one inning. The Irish made a few errors in this one that allowed Creighton some momentum and the Irish were not able to overcome.
“We look forward to the Area Tournament starting this week in Central City. Our defense and pitching has gotten better in areas over the past couple of weeks and we hope to compete well in the Area Tournament and if we play well and gain some momentum throughout the tournament, you never know what might happen.”