HARTINGTON - The Hartington Juniors scored three runs against Neligh in the first inning of the Class C Area 1 consolation semifinals on Monday, but Neligh quickly took back the lead and went on to win 13-7. The Hartington defense struggled early, allowing five runs in both the first and second innings, and committing seven errors on the night.
Mason Schaefer started on the mound for Hartington, and was pulled after two full innings of work. While on the mound he committed three errors. Of the ten runs he allowed to cross the plate, only five were earned on six hits and four walks.
Jacob Keiser then pitched four innings of relief, allowing three runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out five. Keiser started his night behind the plate at catcher, but finished on the mound.
Keiser also had a strong night at the plate. He hit an RBI double twice, one in the first and the other in the second inning. On the night he went 2-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a walk.
The Hartington Juniors ended their season with the loss to Neligh, and finished with a record of 7-7-1. Head coach Don Whitmire noted that he had a very young team this year that included bringing up players from the Pony League to add some depth.
“I said we were one game, one pitch, one out away from being in a better position than what we were, but that is baseball,” said Whitmire. “I told them that the frustrating thing with baseball is what is in between your ears, your brain. It is a tough mental game and when the negative things start happening you need to cheer for each other, root for each other, and pull each other up.”
The Juniors season may be done, but there will be some players who will continue on with the Seniors and have a second chance at a postseason run. Jacob Keiser, Brady Steffen, Ted Bengston, Chase Lammers, Luke Reifenrath, Mason Scheafer, and Owen Heimes have all spent time playing with the Seniors this season. A few have even appeared on the mound, with Steffen, Heimes, and Bengston all seeing some innings.
At the plate, Owen Heimes, and Jacob Keiser were two of the leaders. Each boasted a batting average over .400, Heimes at .463 and Keiser at .414. Keiser led the team in scoring, with 19 runs, while Heimes led the team in RBIs, with 20. Steffen led the team in walks, with 14, as his switch hitting ability allowed him to be patient at the plate all season.
The Hartington Seniors were in action on Tuesday at Ponca, a quick turnaround for the Junior players that will join the team. The Juniors loss marks the end of a four day stretch of postseason games.
Hartington 3 1 0 0 0 0 3 7 6 7
Neligh 5 5 0 2 0 1 x 13 9 0
Hartington - Brady Steffen, 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B; Chase Lammers, 1-3, 2 R, 1 SB; Jacob Keiser, 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 2B, 1 SB; Owen Heimes, 0-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB; Jaxson Bernecker, 0-0, 1 R, 3 BB; Brett Kleinschmidt, 2-4; Ted Bengston, 0-2, 1 BB; Bode Noecker, 0-3, 1 K; Weston Heine, 0-1, 2 RBI; Kerby Hochstein, 0-2, 2 K; Mason Schaefer, 0-1, 1 K; Conner Hochstein, 0-0, 1 BB.
Hartington - L - Mason Schaefer, 2.0 IP, 10 R, 5 ER, 6 H, 4 BB; Jacob Keiser, 4.0 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K.