HASTINGS — Kearney Post 52 Juniors blasted into the postseason.
Scoring 11 runs in the first inning, and getting a two-hit pitching performance from Carter Krause, Post 52 pounded the Scottsbluff Westco Express 15-0 Friday in the first game of the Area 7 Tournament.
The victory gives Kearney a day off before playing the winners’ bracket final on Sunday. The time of the game will be set after the other opponent slot is filled.
Krause needed only 56 pitches to get through the five-inning game. He struck out four and walked one.
“Carter is a strike thrower. He lets them put the ball in play and our guys turned a couple double plays and a couple tougher outs,” Kearney coach Matt Connot said. “We played good defense, which the first half of the year was not the case at all.”
Kearney had seen Westco earlier in the year, and scouted most of their pitchers. They hadn’t scouted the one who started Friday.
“As soon as we saw that, we thought there was one kid we hadn’t seen yet that was pretty decent. So 11 in the first sets the tone for the rest of the game and lets our starter kind of relax a little bit. I’m sure there were some first-game jitters because he hasn’t pitched in a district game yet,” Connot said.
Hunter Garcia drew the start for Westco. He lasted one-third of an inning, giving up six hits and nine runs. Two other pitchers followed.
Kearney finished with 11 hits including a triple by Collin Fruhling, two doubles by Tanner Johnson and doubles by Nick Carlson and Krause. Carlson finished with six RBIs. Carlson drove in four in the first inning with a three-run double and a sacrifice fly. Krause drove in two with a first-inning double.
The quick start allowed Connot to rest a gimpy shortstop and a catcher who he didn’t want behind the plate “all the time in 120-degree heat or whatever they said it was here on the turf.”
By staying under 60 pitches, Krause can return Monday if he’s needed in the double-elimination tournament.