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Zabokrtsky throws no hitter against Mount Michael
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Zabokrtsky throws no hitter against Mount Michael

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ASHLAND -- The Beatrice Exmark Legion Seniors needed a big pitching performance on Friday from Qwin Zabokrtsky.

And they got one.

Zaborktsky pitched all seven innings against Elkhorn Mount Michael, giving up no runs on no hits while striking out five. A walk and a hit batsman in the sixth inning were the only two hitters to reach base against Zabokrtsky. 

Beatrice won the game 4-0 in Ashland, giving them hope that they could still advance out of their division after suffering a 3-2 defeat Thursday night against Ashland.

Beatrice is playing in the South Division of the 16-team tournament being hosted by Bennington and Ashland. All of the South division games are being played in Ashland while the North Division is being played at Bennington. The top two out of each division advance to Sunday's semifinals.

The tournament is being billed the COVID State Tournament since the usual American Legion Area and State Tournaments were canceled this year due to the virus.

Beatrice Coach Chris Belding said Zabokrtsky was his usual self on Friday.

"He got out there and threw strike one right away," Belding said. "Then he was using all of his pitched and kept their guys off balance. The guys also played some good defense behind him, making no errors, so it was a pretty good day overall."

Beatrice jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Mount Michael on Friday. Will Reimer led off with a double while Connor Hamilton followed that up with a walk. A ground out by Austin Burroughs advanced those runners to second and third and a wild pitch allowed both runs to score, making it 2-0.

Those two runs would be all Zabokrtsky needed, but Beatrice would tack on two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. 

Zabokrtsky reached with a one out walk and his courtesy runner, Jaxson Blackburn, advanced to second on Zane Hoffman's single. Aiden Russell's RBI single made it 3-0. An error allowed Hoffman to score, extending the lead to 4-0.

Zabokrtsky pitched a perfect top of the seventh, striking out two and completing the no hitter.

Beatrice had six hits in the game, including a double and a single by Reimer. Hamilton, Deboer, Hoffman and Russell had a single each.

"We struggled at the plate a little bit," Belding said. "We put four runs on the board and got a couple of those insurance runs in the sixth that helped. The guys are getting on base, we just aren't driving them in."

Beatrice needed the win after letting a game against Ashland slip away Thursday night. Beatrice led 1-0, but Ashland scored three runs in the sixth inning to take a 3-1 lead. Beatrice managed one run in the seventh, but it wouldn't be enough to complete the comeback.

Beatrice's first run came in the top of the third when Eli Mangnall led off by reaching on an error. After an out was recorded, Hamilton reached on a walk to put runners at first and second. Both runners moved up on a passed ball and another passed ball allowed one run to score, making it 1-0.

Ashland's sixth inning rally started with three singles that loaded the bases with nobody out. A two-RBI single made it 2-1. Beatrice then recorded two outs, but an error would allow one more run to score, making it 3-1.

Exmark tried to rally in the seventh. Reimer led off with a single and Hamilton walked. A ground out moved the runners up to second and third with one out.

A passed ball allowed one run to score, but two straight strikeouts would leave the tying run stranded at third base.

Hoffman pitched all six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out five and walking two.

Exmark had four hits in the game. Deboer had a double and a single while Hamilton and Reimer had a single each.

Beatrice has one more game remaining in their division, a 11:30 a.m. game against Nebraska City on Saturday.  If Beatrice should advance to the semifinals, those would be played at Bennington on Sunday.

Belding speculated that a win over Nebraska City on Saturday and two Ashland losses against Nebraska City and Mount Michael could propel Beatrice into Sunday's semifinals at Bennington.

There is also a scenario in which there could be a three way tie in the division, which tiebreakers would then be utilized. 

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