SOUTH SIOUX CITY — Jaxson Bernecker provided the power on the mound and the Hartington American Legion Seniors played just enough defense, and got just enough hits to advance in the Ralph Bishop League Tournament at Voss Field in Klasey Park here Sunday evening.
Bernecker scattered just six hits in the game and overcame four errors by his defense to claim the win and move Post 4 along in the tournament as they head to Battle Creek for the next round.
“I have to leave after this game for the rest of the week,” Bernecker said. “So I wanted to last as long as I could.”
Bernecker lasted as long as he could as he hit the pitch-limit in the final inning with only one batter left, and kept his team in contention the entire night.
“I knew I was leaving so I tried to leave them in the best place possible,” Bernecker said. “The guys were behind me all night, so we ended up moving along.”
Post 4 jumped to the lead from the beginning, scoring a run at the bottom of the first then took another lead in the second after Ponca answered.
“They kept coming after us,” Bernecker said. “But I knew we would be all right, I trust my team and they came through.”
Ponca scored a couple of runs in the third to go up 3-2 but Post 4 had an answer in the fourth.
Carson Arens slapped a single to the left side before another single by Bernecker went back up the middle.
Bernecker and Arens eventually scored on back-to back singles from Bernecker to take a 4-3 lead then things got interesting.
As the teams headed to the final inning, Bernecker took care of business.
“We are losing four guys this week, Hartington coach Ryan Heimes said. “It’s terrible to have this happen right now, but it is what it is.”
Ponca would score another meaningless run in the seventh, but between Bernecker and the last out by Carson Arens unassisted at first base, when Bernecker was replaced after reaching 105 pitches, the Post 4 Seniors were headed to the next round at Battle Creek June 28.
“It’s going to be hard to move along missing the kids we will be missing,” Heimes said. “They have important things to do and it’s just the way it is, if we win a couple of games they’ll be back for the finals.”
Post 4 added an insurance run in the in the sixth after Bernecker singled and scored on a hit by Jaelen Lammers in the sixth to seal the deal.
Bernecker and three additional players will be counselors at a retreat for younger students for the Catholic church this coming week.
Some things are more important than the American pastime.
“That experience will be the best,” Bernecker said. “I love baseball and hate to leave the team, but I’m really looking forward to being around the younger kids at camp.”
Bernecker got the win on the hill for Hartington.
“We have a 14-year-old kid playing short stop (Dylan Taylor),” Heimes said. “We have been figuring things out all season - but we are figuring it out.”