The Strategic Legacy Advisors (Lakeview) Junior Reds lost their perfect record in a weekend tournament at Hastings, but learned a valuable lesson about overcoming adversity and managed a split of four games.
The Junior Reds opened the weekend with another big offensive output, defeating Hastings 16-8; dropped a 9-8 decision to Omaha Central then came back with a 12-5 loss to Norfolk later on Saturday and finished up play in an 8-7 comeback win over Kearney on Sunday afternoon.
Following the weekend, Lakeview is now 7-2 on the season.
Top performances went to Haustny Forney, who had two doubles and eight RBIs including five RBIs in the loss to Central, Sam Kwapnioski with six total RBIs and Ean Luebbe, whose line in the win over Kearney included three hits, a double and two driven in.
It was mostly a rough weekend on the mound, though Shayden Lundstrom and Logan Jaixen were able to pick up wins on their records.
"On Saturday we struggled to pitch and throw consistent strikes. We were around the plate, I felt, with our pitches on Saturday, but unfortunately things did not work out," coach Travis Tessendorf said. "We continue to hit the ball very well, and for the most part of the weekend, played very well defensively and played sound baseball."
FRIDAY - SLA JUNIOR REDS 16, HASTINGS 8
The Junior Reds scored in every inning of a mercy rule-shortened contest and put it away with a seven-spot in the third inning. The two teams sat tied 1-1 after the first inning, Lakeview plated three in the second then blew it open with seven runs on five hits, a hit batter, two walks and an error.
SLA sent 12 hitters to the plate and scored all seven runs with two outs. Ean Luebbe was hit by a pitch then looked to be left stranded after a groundout and a fly to left. But the offense cranked into gear with a walk to Adam Van Cleave, Forney RBI double, Kwapnioski RBI double, Garrett Oakley RBI single, walk to Cooper Tessendorf, RBI single by Eli Osten, Hasings error and Shayden Lundstrom RBI single before it was all over.
SATURDAY - OMAHA CENTRAL 9, SLA JUNIOR REDS 8
Lakeview suffered its first real test of adversity in Saturday's first game following two controversial calls from the home plate umpire.
Down 6-0 after five innings, the Junior Reds's bats came alive in the late innings and pushed across four runs in both the sixth and the seventh.
Hastings responded with three in the bottom half, two of which came in on bases-loaded walks, including the winning run, and denied the late comeback.
Twice it seemed Lakeview had made the final out of the inning at first before the home plate umpire overruled the first-base umpire and called the runner safe. Though that extended the game and allowed Central the win, Tessendorf said his team needed to respond better when things didn't go its way.
"Sometimes you get the calls, sometimes you don't," he said. "We kind of left that game with a sour taste in our mouths and carried it over to Norfolk and didn't play very well.
"We have to learn to bounce back when we don't get a call or a questionable call goes against us."
SATURDAY - NORFOLK 14, SLA JUNIORS 8
As Tessendorf mentioned, that didn't happen immediately. Norfolk plated three in the first and 10 in the second and ran away with a five-inning win.
The Reds threw six pitchers, four of which allowed at least one earned run. Forney, Oakley, Sam Kwapnioski and Lundstrom all had doubles. Kwapnioski also drove in two runs.
SUNDAY - SLA JUNIOR REDS 8, KEARNEY 7
Initially what looked to be like a sour end to the weekend following Saturday's controversy instead turned into a positive finish when the Junior Reds overcame a 5-0 deficit with a six-run fourth. The first six hitters all reached and scored in a frame that included 10 trips to the plate and four hits.
Lakeview lost the lead in the next half inning but then took it right back in the bottom of the fifth on Luebbe's RBI-double. Kwapnioski then took ball four on a full count with the bases loaded to win the game.
Luebbe threw a dart from right field to home preventing a runner from scoring and Adam Van Cleave threw out a runner from left, both in the top half of the sixth, preserving the tie.
"We did a nice job bouncing back after Saturday," Tessendorf said. "You never want to say a loss was good, but it was good to endure some adversity."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.