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Neapco Juniors heading to state tournament
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Neapco Juniors heading to state tournament

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NEBRASKA CITY -- Beatrice's baseball success continued Wednesday night when the Neapco Juniors captured the B1 Area Tournament Championship in Nebraska City.

Neapco bounced back from a loss to Nebraska City on Monday to win three straight games. The avenged that loss to Nebraska City with a 7-0 win over them in Wednesday night's championship game.

Beatrice advances to the Class B State Tournament, which starts on Saturday in Waverly.

"The kids fought well all week," said Beatrice coach Zach Decker. "Pitching was good and the fielding finally came through later in the week. Overall, it was a great team effort. I think we played about 12 different starting lineups throughout the tournament, so we're relatively deep and we're excited to move on."

Wednesday night's championship game was never in doubt as Deegan Nelson was dominant on the mound, pitching all seven innings and giving up no runs on two hits while striking out eight and walking two.

"Deegan came in and he shoved it," Decker said. "He did exactly what we needed him to do. That was exactly what we were holding him for -- for that moment. We took him out after 42 pitches in the opener against Hickman, so we knew we could take him the distance tonight and he did a great job."

Beatrice scored a run in the first inning and three runs in the second inning, which would be more than enough for Deegan. They added a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth for good measure.

Neapco had nine hits in the game. Luke Feist had two singles and two runs scored while Nelson had two singles and an RBI. Dominik Salazar had a double and an RBI while Colton Belding had a single and two RBI's. Luke Hamilton had a single, an RBI and a run scored and Jaxson Blackburn and Eastin Starlin had a single each.

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"Offense did a great job," Decker said. "They put the ball in play, which is something we didn't do in the first game against Nebraska City when we struck out 16 times. That changes things when you can put the ball in play and take advantage of the errors the other team makes."

To reach the championship, Neapco had to defeat Plattsmouth prior to the championship. Beatrice won that game 11-4.

Trevin Lang was the winning pitcher in that game, pitching all seven innings and giving up four runs (none earned) on six hits while striking out eight and walking two.

Beatrice had 13 hits in the game. Trey Henning had a triple, a single and two RBI's. Blackburn had a double, a single, an RBI and two runs scored. Eastin Starlin had a double, a single, an RBI and two runs scored. Luke Feist had two singles and an RBI.

Belding had a double and a run scored, Josh Buhr had a double, an RBI and a run scored and Lang had a double and two RBIs. Nelson and Luke Hamilton had a single each.

Beatrice will open their state tournament against Broken Bow on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Waverly. With a win, they would play at 6 p.m. on Sunday against the winner of Arlington and Waverly.

On the other side of the bracket, Pierce plays Central City and Chadron plays Blair.

Decker things his squad has what it takes to make some noise in Waverly.

"We've got some work to do," Decker said. "We're not going to be full staffed like you usually like to be when you start a state tournament, so some kids will have to step up. We've got the guys to do it, though. We've got our three captains taking care of everything and I think we've got a pretty good shot."

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