The Neligh Senior Legion baseball team captured the Elkhorn Valley League crown Sunday night with its 4-3 come-from-behind victory over O'Neill, in 10 innings.
"I loved the fight these guys had the whole game," said Neligh coach Dan Murray, who won his first Elkhorn Valley League title as the head mentor of Neligh. "They never quit or gave up. O'Neill is a really good team and we were right there in it the whole time and at the end, we pulled it off."
O'Neill and Neligh exchanged runs in the third inning. A fielder's choice allowed Eddie Rodriguez to score for O'Neill, while Cole Belitz crossed home on Conor Ramold's groundout.
O'Neill jumped back ahead in the fifth. After a walk, Rodriguez stole second and third and scored on a throwing error. Francisco Perez laced a RBI double to right to give O'Neill a 3-1 advantage.
Neligh had a chance to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth after Jayden Arehart and Austin Rice singled on back-to-back at bats with two outs, but a fly out to center ended the threat.
"Even when we were down, I thought the momentum was still in our dugout," coach Murray said. "I liked the way things were going. It got late and they had to switch (pitchers) and we brought Beau (Murray) in and we thought we were in a better situation than what they were."
In the bottom of the seventh, Beau Murray led-off with a double to right-centerfield. An error allowed Murray to score to draw within one. With one out, Arehart ripped a single to center, scoring Cole Belitz to tie the game and force extras.
"I knew I needed to find a gap and hit the ball," Arehart said. "I just wanted to hit the ball."
Both teams went down in order in the eighth and stranded a runner in the ninth.
With two outs, a wild pitch advanced runners to second and third for Neligh in the bottom of the 10th. Before O'Neill pitcher Rodriguez threw the next pitch, he was called for a balk, allowing Tyson Belitz to score the championship-winning run.
"We knew it was going to be a hard ballgame," Arehart said. "We beat them (O'Neill) and they beat us (in the regular season). We had to come out here, get the bats going, have good pitching, good defense and have a good game."
Beau Murray picked up the win on the mound. In four innings of relief, Murray shutout O'Neill and did not allow a hit, while striking out five. Arehart started the game and gave up three runs on five hits and struck out five in six innings of work.
"The pitching was key," coach Murray said. "Getting late in a game, one or two base runners can really change the momentum of the game. They did a good job of letting a couple on here and there, but we never let them string together a whole bunch (of hits). That was huge. A lot of it was pitching and a lot of it was the good defense behind them. We had some nice defensive plays in the infield. Beau and Jayden both threw really good."
Beau Murray and Cole Belitz each tallied two hits and a run scored. Arehart recorded two hits and a RBI, while Rice and Austin Miller each accounted for two hits.
"We hit the ball well all night long," coach Murray said. "We really did, but O'Neill played really good defense and stopped a lot of it."
Neligh (14-1) begins district tournament play this weekend.
"This was a huge win for us because of how good O'Neill is," coach Murray said. "We split with them in the regular season. We have that feeling now and we're going to carry into the tournament. As long as they do that, good things are going to happen for them."
Trailing 6-1 in bottom of the fourth, O'Neill plated six unanswered runs, including a walk-off single in the sixth, to defeat Tilden, 7-6, in the Quad County Pony League Tournament.
Tilden started the game strong offensively with two runs in the opening frame. RBI singles by Carter Rautenberg and Walt Furstenau gave Tilden the early advantage.
O'Neill answered with a run in the second, but Tilden appeared to have opened up the game in its favor in the fourth.
With the bases loaded, Rautenberg laced a double to left to score two runs. A squeeze bunt and wild pitch allowed two mores runs to score as Tilden led 6-1 heading into the bottom of the frame.
O'Neill began its comeback by matching Tilden's four runs with four of its own in the bottom half of the fourth.
Tilden had a chance to reclaim the momentum with the bases loaded and nobody out in its following at bat, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the threat.
A solo dinger to dead centerfield by O'Neill's Sean Coventry knotted the game at six heading into the final inning.
Tilden once again had runners in scoring position, as Rautenberg stood at third with one out, but Tilden was unable to bring him in.
O'Neill's Lance Schmeicht led off the bottom of the sixth with a double off the centerfield fence. A passed ball moved Schmeicht to third and Tate Thompson's RBI single to center scored the game-winning run.
O'Neill advances to the championship game and faces Crofton today at 5:30 p.m.
Tilden bows out of the tournament with a third-place finish.
Multiple lead changes, stellar defensive plays and clutching hitting highlighted Atkinson's 10-9 victory over Orchard Saturday in the Quad County Peewee Tournament.
Atkinson opened the contest with an inside-the-park home run by Caden Lech to take an early 1-0 lead.
With runners on the bases, an error allowed Preston Hoke and Sam Cheatum to score in the third for Orchard.
Atkinson responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to reclaim the lead.
Cody Wiekersham knotted the game at three with a RBI double in Orchard's next at bat.
Atkinson answered with a four-run fourth to take back the momentum. With the bases loaded, a fielder's choice allowed the first run to score and Simon Addison followed with a bases clearing triple.
Orchard did not go away and tallied six runs in the inning to take a 9-7 advantage into the bottom of the fifth.
Atkinson rallied with a two-run triple by Mason Crumirine to tie the game and Drake Nemetz ended the game with a single to center.
Wyatt Shabram nearly pitched the whole game for Orchard, coming out of the game only for the final batter.
Orchard's magical tournament run comes to an end, while Atkinson awaits the winner of Laurel and Plainview today at 6 p.m.
O'Neill dropped into the consolations when Neligh downed them 6-1 last week. The Aces were determined to avenge their loss to stay alive in the Quad County Pony Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Neligh spotted O'Neill a 6-point lead in the first inning, which proved to be too big of a deficit to overcome. Neligh rallied back within four, but fell to O'Neill, 10-4, in the end.
A nearly three-hour peewee game nearly ended in a historic rally Friday night as Clearwater/Elgin fought back against Atkinson in the Quad County Tournament.
Down 16-7, Clearwater/Elgin fought to within 16-12 in the marathon game. Atkinson advanced to the 2 p.m. consolation game Saturday against Orchard.
Tilden fell to Crofton in the Quad County Pony semifinals on Friday night but still can fight back into the championship.
Crofton won 16-6 in five innings to move to the finals. Tilden dropped to the consolation final at 3 p.m. Sunday. With a win in that game, Tilden would play for the championship against Crofton at 8 p.m. Sunday night.
Despite an offensive outburst to open the game, the Neligh Senior Legion baseball team had to hold on to defeat Hartington, 9-6, Friday in the semifinals of the Elkhorn Valley League Tournament at Harold Cole Field.
"We came out really good and I liked the way we came out from the get go," said Neligh coach Dan Murray. "But then in that middle part of the game we went really flat. You could see it in their faces and their eyes and it reflected out there on the field with some errors. Their attitude reflected on the field and they need to clean that up before we get into Sunday and next week."
Neligh opened the game with four runs in its first at bat. RBI by Hunter Charf, Austin Miller, Austin Rice and Hunter Reestman gave Neligh an early lead.
After a sacrifice fly by Nolan Klug cracked the goose egg in Hartington's scoring column in the second, Neligh answered with two mores runs, pushing its lead to five.
"Everyone was seeing the pitcher really well," Miller said. "We strung a few hits together and everybody kept it going."
Hartington responded with a four-run third inning to cut Neligh's advantage to one.
Hartington tied the game at six in the top of the fifth off of Turner Korth's RBI single to center. Hartington later loaded the bases in the inning, but a running catch in left field by Andrew Herley ended the threat.
The Neligh Seniors quickly reclaimed the lead when an error allowed Miller to score from second.
"It was pretty important to shift momentum back towards us," Miller said on responding with a run after Hartington tied the game. "It ended up working out in our favor."
Neligh added a few insurance runs in the sixth when Jayden Arehart ripped a two-run double to the left field fence.
Following a lead-off walk, Arehart struck out the next batter, then induced a 6-4-3 game-ending double play to seal a spot in Sunday's league title game.
Tyson Belitz picked up the win on the mound. In five innings of work, Belitz allowed six runs on seven hits and struck out four. Arehart threw the final two innings to record the six-out save.
"Tyson (Belitz) actually threw a pretty decent game," said coach Murray. "But we probably cost him 20 to 30 pitches that he should have not had to throw."
Miller went a perfect two-for-two for Neligh with a RBI and a run scored. Beau Murray scored three times and Arehart added a double, two runs and two runs batted in.
"We made a lot of errors on defense, but we were able to overcome it with our bats to get the win," Miller said.
Neligh (13-1) advances to Sunday night's Elkhorn Valley championship game where they will meet the winner of the Creighton and O'Neill game at Creighton.
"We have to show up ready and we have to carry that throughout the game," coach Murray said. "We can't play half games anymore. We're in the part of the season where you have to play the whole game and you have to be up and ready the whole time. That's the biggest thing we're going to learn from tonight. You have to be here and ready to go."
The O’Neill Pinnacle Bank Irish Seniors won their first game in the Elkhorn Valley League tournament on Thursday night with a 10-2 five-inning win over Plainview.
With this win, the Irish improved to 18-3 on the season and will host Creighton on Friday night in a semi-final game. The other semi-final will take place between Hartington and Neligh.
Eddie Rodriguez got the start and the win on the mound as he went 2 1/3 innings before giving way to Cole Gaughenbaugh who threw a great 2 1/3 innings. Alex Thramer came on to record the final out picking off an attempted base stealer. The Irish gave up one run in the 1st inning but responded with five first inning runs to take control of this one. The Irish would plate two more in the 3rd and three in the 4th.
Jacob Long led the offense on the night as he went 3-3 with three RBI’s. Other hits came from Appleby, Krysl, and DeLaO.
"The Irish defense was solid as they committed no errors on the night and had nice catches in the outfield from Tye Hilker, Jacob Long, and Dennis Herrera," Coach Greg Appleby said.
On Friday night at 7 p.m., the Irish will host Creighton at “The Fred” in O'Neill with the winner earning a spot in the championship on Sunday.
Former Clearwater-Orchard volleyball player Mallory Cooper is giving back to the program that helped land her a spot on Dakota Wesleyan’s volleyball team.
Cooper, along with Dakota Wesleyan volleyball coach Lindsay Wilber, hosted a volleyball camp in Clearwater for Cyclone players on Monday. “It’s great (to be back),” Cooper said. “I had a lot of good supporters throughout high school. It’s really good to give back to my hometown and the program I originally came from.”
The one-day camp featured two, three-hour sessions – the first for high schoolers and the second for grades fourth through eighth–focusing on fundamentals and technique.
“I do all kinds of different satellite camps,” Wilber said. “I do four or five (camps) a summer. This is my first time in Clearwater, so as a college coach, I can expand my horizons and I get to show who Dakota Wesleyan volleyball is. It’s good exposure for our program and good for me to see different players.”
Along with teaching the game to younger athletes, Cooper also helped shed some light on being a collegiate athlete.
“It is all about hard work and effort,” she said. “Coming from a small town and playing college volleyball, I wanted to give it a shot. I say my hard work and putting it all out there every day at practice got me where I am at.”
The camp was also beneficial to Cooper as well. The junior defensive specialist had to switch roles from player to coach during the instructional practice.
“Coach (Wilber) says it’s really good to help with camps because we see the fundamentals,” Cooper said. “If you teach it, then you can do it. It helps us put that more into action.”
The Clearwater-Orchard graduate has been hard at work preparing for the upcoming season along with balancing a few jobs.
“I work at the hospital in Neligh as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) and I work at the pool in Orchard as one of the managers,” Cooper said. “I go up to Mitchell (South Dakota) about once a week for open gym, and I hit the weight room three times a week. I do a lot of working out and getting ready.”
Another strong pitching performance by Cole Belitz propelled the Neligh Senior Legion team to a 9-0 triumph, in five innings, over Osmond Thursday in the opening round of the Elkhorn Valley League Tournament.
"We came out slow hitting wise," Belitz said. "We had good contact, but we were hitting right to them. It was unfortunate, but our defense came out hot and out pitching was good. I was finding the plate pretty early, which was nice. We opened things up in the fourth and fifth and that took us to the victory."
The offense struggled to open the contest, recording one hit in the first three innings of play.
However, Belitz kept the Osmond bats quite, allowing two hits and striking out four through three innings.
The Neligh Seniors came alive in the fourth. Jayden Arehart scored Neligh's first run on a squeeze bunt. Austin Rice ripped a RBI single to left and Beau Murray followed with a two-run single up the middle to give the home squad a 4-0 advantage.
Following a 1-2-3 inning by Osmond, Neligh sealed the win with a five-run fifth for the nine-run rule victory. Three-straight triples by Tyson Belitz, Arehart and Conor Ramold scored the first two runs of the inning. An error scored Ramold and Murray delivered the final strike with a two-run single to center.
"The key was we finally caught up to the pitcher's speed," Murray said. "He was a good pitcher, but we finally caught on to his pitching and we started to connect. We got smarter with out bats and were more aggressive."
Cole Belitz picked up the win on the mound. The Neligh starting pitcher surrendered two hits and struck out six in five innings of work.
"The last two games have been pretty good for me, but I don't want to get too confident," Belitz said. "I hope I can keep it going and if they need me in the postseason, hopefully I can bring another good game."
Murray led the offense with three hits and four runs batted in. Arehart and Ramold added two hits, a RBI and two runs scored.
Neligh (12-1) advances to the Elkhorn Valley League semifinals and hosts Hartington Friday at 6 p.m. at Harold Cole Field.
"We have to keep playing hard and keep playing how we have been all year," Murray said. "We need to keep up our strong defense, keep up our hitting like we did tonight and hope for the best."
Clearwater/Elgin jumped out to an early lead, but O'Neill put together a huge fourth inning to win the elimination game of the Quad County Pony Baseball Tournament on Thursday night.
Clearwater/Elgin held onto a 3-0 advantage before the bottom of the fourth. When O'Neill stepped up to the plate, they scored nine runs to take its first lead of the game. In the fifth, Clearwater/Elgin fought back to score one more and held its opponent scoreless. O'Neill went on to win the contest, 9-4, and will play Neligh on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
A strong offensive performance guided Battle Creek to an 11-0 victory, in three innings, over Orchard Thursday in the Quad County Peewee Tournament.
Battle Creek opened the contest with five runs in the first, capped off by Gavin Korth's inside-the-park home run.
Orchard had runners at second and third in the top of the second, but a strikeout ended the threat.
Battle Creek added three more runs in the bottom half of the frame to push its lead to eight.
Back-to-back hits but Preston Hope and Sam Cheatum put runner in scoring position in the third, but Battle Creek got out of the jam.
Battle Creek secured the 10-run rule win off of Blake Borchers' three-run inside-the-park dinger.
Orchard drops into the consolation bracket and faces the winner of Clearwater/Elgin and Atkinson Saturday at 2 p.m.
Battle Creek awaits the winner of Laurel and Albion in the winner's bracket semifinals Saturday at noon.
Tilden edged out Neligh in the quarterfinal game of the Quad County Pony Baseball Tournament on Thursday night.
In an all-Antelope County contest, Tilden topped the Neligh Pony team, 12-8.
Neligh will drop into the consolation bracket and play the winner of tonight's C/E and O'Neill game at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tilden will advance to play Crofton on Friday at 8 p.m.
The lead changed multiple times throughout the close elimination game between Tilden and Atkinson in the Quad County Peewee Baseball Tournament in Neligh on Wednesday night.
Eventually Atkinson claimed the 9-7 victory to advance in the tourney, ending Tilden's season.
Up 4-2 early in the game, Tilden's offense took control, but Atkinson came back to tie it up. Tilden regained a narrow lead in the fourth, pulling ahead 6-5. Hot bats by Atkinson gave them a 9-6 advantage before handing over last-bat to the home team. Tilden was able to notch one more on the scoreboard, but fell short in the end.
The Neligh community added a new resident to its town this summer with the Nebraska Lawdawgs football team playing their home games at Warrior Field.
“Neligh has been super supportive,” said Lawdawg coach Jordan Taylor. “It started when we were supposed to host a preseason game and we hadn’t found a place. We were looking and Neligh said yes. The local guys said we should just play all of our games here and then something that started out as a joke, turned into reality. It has worked out really well and the guys love it.”
“It was unexpected to play in Neligh,” said Lawdawg linebacker and Neligh resident Logan Lawson. “We had so many people from this area and we decided to see if Neligh wanted to accept us to play here. The community has been great. We’ve had great community support from businesses and there are a ton of people in the stands. People are talking to us every week and telling us good luck and congratulations. It’s been great.”
The Lawdawgs disbanded after the 2013 season. After deciding to resurrect the program this year, several new players had to step up and join the squad.
“I came out and tried out for the team,” said Lawdawg linebacker Alex Orozco, a Neligh-Oakdale graduate. “When I saw Seth (Snodgrass) was on the team, I knew it must be a real thing. Seth helped me out and now I’m playing linebacker.”
Despite being its first season in five years, Nebraska has gotten off to a solid start with a 4-2 record. Last Saturday’s 39-0 victory over the Northern Iowa Knights was the Dawgs first shutout of the season and their third consecutive win.
Lawdawg players have to balance their busy personal lives, along with practices and working out, in order to be successful on the gridiron.
“We practice three days a week and normally half the team shows up because of work and everything,” said Lawdawg DB and running back Spencer Volden, a Clearwater-Orchard graduate. “It’s great for the guys that get in there because they can work and make us better as a team.”
Even for a gym owner and avid workout enthusiast, trying to play football again was a struggle to start.
“It was kind of a switch from what I was used to doing,” said Lawdawg linebacker Seth Snodgrass, a Neligh-Oakdale graduate and owner of 719 Fitness. “I was used to lifting heavy weight every single day. Now I transferred into explosive power. It has been fun and new to me for learn. It has helped out a tremendous amount. You can tell from day one when I first started, Logan (Lawson) drug me to the try-outs and I was out of shape and my hips were so tight. Now we do agilities twice-a-week and football practices have helped with how I play and perform.”
The Dawgs also like to give back to the community by offering more than just a form of entertainment.
“We like to always give back to the community when they support us,” Taylor said. “We want to give them more than a football game. We are hosting a goodwill camp for kids to come out for a few hours and practice the thing they love. Because they have been so supportive, that’s warranted us to want to put a camp together as a thank you.”
The Lawdawgs will be hosting a “Fun and Fundamentals” youth football camp July 23-27 from 9 a.m. to noon at Warrior Field. The camp is for students entering the second grade to eighth grade. The second through sixth graders practice from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., while the seventh and eighth graders practice 10:30 a.m. to noon.The cost for the camp is a goodwill donation to help support the Lawdawgs football program.
With a successful first season and continued support from the community, the future looks bright for the Lawdawgs and Neligh will get to come along for the ride.
“The best part about where we play is how supportive Neligh has been,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter how big your town is, what matters is how much people want you to be there and be supportive. The field is beautiful and it is well taken care of. It has been a good experience.”
A grand slam helped secure a win for the Clearwater/Elgin Peewees in the Quad County Baseball Tournament in Neligh on Tuesday night.
Leading 5-0, Corbin Kinney of C/E smacked an inside-the-park grand slam late in the third inning to give the team a comfortable 9-0 lead.
The Peewees were able to hold off a surge by Battle Creek #2 and picked up a 9-4 victory to advance in the tourney.
Clearwater/Elgin will play again on Friday at 8 p.m. against the winner of Tilden vs. Atkinson.
An offensive surge guided the Creighton Junior baseball team past Neligh, 11-1 in six innings, Monday night in the Legion District Championship game at Pierce.
"We had two huge innings for us to pull away," said Creighton coach Kyle Kibbie. "We shifted the momentum our way and there for a while, I thought they (Neligh) had the momentum. We were struggling, but that fourth inning really changed it for us."
"We did alright," said Neligh coach Dan Murray. "We hung in there until the fourth and fifth inning. We lost the fight a little bit. We had a couple of errors and you could see it took the sails out from underneath us. But overall, I'm super proud of these guys. A lot of these people didn't expect these guys to go more than two games in the tournament and we end up as runner-up in the district. I'm pleased with how they fought the whole tournament."
Creighton struck first with a run in the opening inning, but Neligh knotted the contest at one in its next at bat after Kaleb Pofahl scored on a passed ball.
Neligh had a golden opportunity to claim the lead. Neligh loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth, but a foul out and pop out ended the threat.
Creighton responded with five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Alex Homan ripped a RBI single to center for the first run and Conor Hammer followed with a two-run single to left. Dade Davis then laced a shot to the rightfield fence and came all the way around to score on an inside-the-park home run.
"Those three hits in-a-row won us the game," Kibbie said. "It was huge for us. Our pitcher (Carson Lilly) was struggling before that for a little bit. After that, you could tell he went back out there a lot of calmer and more settled down. It affected the whole team, all the way through."
After Neligh went down in order in the fifth, Creighton tallied four more runs on a bases loaded walk, a Homan sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and a balk.
Creighton sealed the district title when Mitchell Mackeprang scored in the bottom of the sixth off a Neligh error.
Lilly recorded the win on the mound. In 6 2/3 innings, Lilly gave up one run on four hits and struck out six.
"We knew from day one he was going to be our ace on the mound," Kibbie said. "He was the one who was going to have to win us a lot of games. He didn't have his best stuff today, but he knows how to win baseball games. That's what it came down to, he trusted his defense, went out and got the next guy."
Hammer led Creighton with two hits, two runs batted in and two runs scored.
Beau Murray picked up the loss. In 3 2/3 innings, Murray allowed five runs on five hits and struck out five.
Murray, Pofahl, Hunter Charf and Dawson Kaup each singled for Neligh.
Creighton (18-5) advances to the state tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
"It's big for us," Kibbie said on having experience at the state tournament. "We're happy to go, but it's not our goal. Now our goal is to go and win it (a state title). Those kids know it and they're going to come in ready to go."
The sixth-seeded Neligh ends its season with an 8-6 record.
"We came out with the mentality that we were going to do it (win) every game," said coach Murray. "We did fine tonight until the one inning (the fourth). They really fought and they didn't give up. I'm super proud of the way we did that. One of the things we had to battle with these guys on all year long was keeping the fight every game. They did it for this tournament and I'm proud of them."
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