LINCOLN – Kearney right-handed pitcher Noah Carpenter coasted through the first four innings against Archbishop Bergan on Wednesday afternoon.
In the fifth inning, the Knights’ offense came to life, though. They scored two runs in the frame and preserved the lead over the final two innings to end the Bearcats’ run in the Class A state baseball tournament at Sherman Field in Lincoln.
The Bearcats’ offense didn’t help Carpenter’s cause on the mound, as they managed three hits off Archbishop Bergan right-hander Brody Sintek.
“Noah did a great job and gave us an opportunity to definitely win the game,” coach Brad Archer said. “We didn’t really muster anything offensively.”
Through the first four innings, Carpenter held the Knights (16-5) scoreless on four hits and struck out five batters.
The Knights erased his shutout bid in the fifth. They started their rally with a leadoff base hit. After a sacrifice bunt moved Jackson Gilfry to second base, Dillon Dix smacked a single to left field. Sam Engberg miss played the ball, which allowed Gilfry to score.
Dix advanced to second on the blunder. He scored the go-ahead run on the next pitch when Austin Callahan ripped a double past a diving Trey Rodriguez in center field.
Carpenter retired the next two batters to limit the damage. He allowed two runs, eight hits and one walk while striking out six batters in five-plus innings.
“They just happened to bunch a couple of hits together,” Archer said. “We misplayed a ball in the outfield and let a runner get to second that shouldn’t have. I don’t know if they score that second run with the way the inning unfolded.”
The Bearcats’ lone run came in the fourth inning. After Brayden Miller singled and stole second base to lead off the inning, Korbin Rich drove him in for the game’s first run on a single to right-center field.
Rich’s one-run single also marked the Bearcats (18-10) last base runner of the game.
Sintek pitched a complete game for the Knights. He allowed one run on three hits and recorded eight strikeouts.
“He has an above-average fastball and threw a lot of strikes,” Archer said. “He got on top of hitters and was also able to throw his curveball for strikes. We helped him out a little bit too by swinging at some first pitch curveballs that weren’t strikes.”
The defeat wraps up Kearney’s inaugural high school baseball season. They went 1-2 in the state tournament with their lone victory coming against Grand Island on Tuesday.
The Bearcats defeated top-seeded Millard West in a district final game to qualify for the state tournament.
They lose nine players to graduation, including their top two players in catcher Brayden Miller and pitcher/third baseman Mason Casper.
Kearney will begin American Legion play May 23.
“I’ve been very fortunate for the years I’ve been in Kearney to have great kids to work with and this year is no different,” Archer said. “To be around these kids on a daily basis and work with them and watch them mature has been a great experience for me.”