Grand Island pitching quiets First Nationals bats with pair of shutout victories

Carter Johnson of the North Platte First Nationals seniors pitches against Grand Island Home Federal on Wednesday at Bill Wood Field in North Platte. Johnson pitched a five-inning, one-hit gem in the first game of a doubleheader, but North Platte lost both games.

The North Platte seniors entered Wednesday’s home doubleheader winners of four straight and five of six, but Grand Island pitching acted as a wet blanket, sweeping the First Nationals with a pair of shutouts.

G.I. Home Federal (12-14) won a 2-0 pitchers’ duel in the first game, followed by an run-rule 8-0 victory in five innings in game two at Bill Wood Field in North Platte.

Game 1: Grand Island scratched across two first-inning runs, which was enough in a swiftly played pitchers’ duel that was completed in about 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Grand Island’s Ryan Melvin and North Platte’s Carter Johnson both made it tough on the opposing offenses in the 2-0 G.I. victory.

Johnson pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on one hit, walking three and striking out four. Eli Cox worked one inning of relief for the First Nationals (8-16), allowing no runs on one hit, while neither walking or striking out a batter.

Melvin picked up the victory for Home Federal, pitching a complete seven innings, allowing no earned runs on two hits, walking two and striking out eight.

Grand Island plated both runs in the first inning, with Johnson still settling in.

After retiring Home Federal’s leadoff hitter, Johnson hit Carson Cahoy and walked Noah Halsey. Grand Island cleanup hitter Blake Leiting made North Platte pay for the free passes, barreling a ball to left-center field that one-hopped the wall, scoring Cahoy for a 1-0 lead. Grand Island’s next batter, Rans Sanders, hit a chopper to North Platte infielder Miles Morrell who made a nifty pick to field the ball, then fired home to catcher Gus Kreber, saving a run and recording the second out of the inning.

However, Grand Island wound up plating the run the next batter up when a steal attempt by Sanders drew a North Platte throw to first base. While attention was on Sanders caught in a pickle, Leiting sprinted home, beating a late throw and giving G.I. a 2-0 lead.

Ultimately, that’s all the runs they’d need.

Kreber gave North Platte — which was the away team on the scoreboard in game one — hope in the top of the seventh with a leadoff single, but the next two First Nationals batters struck out, followed a Dylan Younghans groudout to end the game.

North Platte committed four errors, while Grand Island had none.

Game 2: Grand Island’s offense came alive in the nightcap, scoring eight runs on nine hits and three walks en route to an 8-0 victory and sweep.

Tyler Ferguson started on the bump for NP and lasted two innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on three hits, walking two and striking out two. Avery Munson came on in relief, throwing the final three innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, walking one and striking out none.

Trevor Johnson pitched an effective five innings for Grand Island to earn the victory, allowing no runs on six hits, walking none and striking out six.

Javi Cruz and Melvin did the most damage offensively for G.I., combining to go 5-for-6 with three runs scored and four RBIs.

Six players recorded one hit for North Platte, as Grand Island outhit NP 9 to 6, while G.I. had no errors and NP one.

North Platte is back in action today with a doubleheader at Lexington, with the first game scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Juniors

GRAND ISLAND — The North Platte First Nationals juniors split a doubleheader on the road against Grand Island on Wednesday.

North Platte (24-5) scored seven runs in the second inning on the way to a blowout 11-1 win via run rule in the first game, followed by a Grand Island 8-5 comeback win in game two.

North Platte returns to the field today when they host a doubleheader against Lexington, with the first game slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Bill Wood Field.

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