By Will Korn 

Sidney falls in extra innings

Game 2 - Legion Juniors District Tournament


Will Korn

Ben Goble waits for a pitch against Alliance.

Alliance left fielder Tucker Hill slid in at home just under the tag of Tyler Bergstrom in the bottom of the eighth and the Spartans walked off with a 3-2 win over the Sidney Junior Post 17 team in its second district game, Sunday afternoon in Chadron.

With the loss, Sidney faced an elimination game Sunday night.

Sidney looked focused to start the game, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first. After leadoff hitter Ben Goble struck out, freshman Mitch Rolls ran out an infield single. Bret Jaggers followed with a six-pitch walk, bringing up starting pitcher Zack Means, who helped his own cause by roping a single over Hausman's head that scored Rolls to put Sidney ahead 1-0.

Means put his team ahead and kept them there, holding Alliance scoreless through the first five innings. He allowed just two hits over that span, while striking out six Alliance batters. He was in control for most of the afternoon but his defense-particularly Arik Doty-gave him strong support all game.

"I was just going to go out there and pitch and see what happens," said Means.

The top of the third inning featured a controversial play at the plate that changed the complexion of the game.

Catcher Tyler Bergstrom worked a leadoff walk against Alliance starter Derek Morrison. With a well-placed sacrifice bunt, Goble moved Bergstom to second. Rolls then reached first on an error on first baseman Nathan Lauder, as he was unable to pick the ball cleanly on the throw from the shortstop.

Then came what turned out to be a game-changing play.

With Rolls taking off for second, Bergstrom started running hard for home. After catcher Connor Blumenthal's attempt to cut down Rolls was late, second baseman Ryan Rash came back home with a throw. Bergstrom appeared to beat the tag at home, but he was called out-the umpire claiming he was tagged on the chest before touching the plate.

Blumenthal had nearly the entire plate blocked with his left leg as Bergstrom was coming in.

The Sidney players and coaches were outraged at the call. In spite of an appeal by assistant Tommy Arellano the call stood. Jaggers grounded out to end Sidney's third inning.

Getting back to work, Means only allowed three base runners through the third, fourth and fifth innings. In Alliance's half of the third inning, Doty made a spectacular fielder's choice out, tagging Andrew Ochoa running to third and then making a strong throw to first that was just a tick late on the double play attempt.

"I just like to relax and make plays to help the team win," said Doty, who finished 2 for 4 at the plate on the day.

Then in the bottom of the fifth, Alliance was threatening after back-to-back two-out walks by Keegan Barker and pitcher Derek Morrison. Then Hausman followed with a lined base hit right to Sidney left fielder Keaton Wakefield, who fired a bullet home to Bergstrom that nailed Barker by a couple feet.

The Sidney dugout roared as Wakefield's strong throw kept Means and his team ahead 1-0 going to the top of the sixth.

Morrison, who matched Means almost out for out through the first five innings, pitched a quick scoreless sixth inning to make sure Alliance got the bats back in its hands still only trailing by one.

And Alliance finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Rash led off with a single a single to left. Means was able to induce two straight fly outs deep to center fielder Mitch Rolls, but struggled to find that third out.

Rash then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch from Means. He was followed by third baseman Tanner Benge who drove in Rash as the tying run with a softly hit single just over the glove of a leaping Jaggers at second. Means was starting to tire, having thrown 111 pitches to that point.

Ben Goble came into relieve Means with two gone in the bottom of the sixth and fanned Barker to end the threat.

After a scoreless seventh frame for both teams the game moved into extra innings with the score locked at 1-1.

In the top of the eighth inning Sidney took the lead when Wakefield drove the ball to left on a 2-1 pitch that scored Rolls from third. Rolls had stolen second base and advanced to third on a Jaggers groundout to set up the scoring play. Sidney's dugout ran out in uncontrollable excitement to greet Rolls as he came in.

It was sort of an unfamiliar situation for Wakefield.

"It was a different feeling, not one I have very often," Wakefield said when asked how he was feeling when he drove in the go-ahead run. "I was excited. I thought we had the game."

But Sidney still needed three more outs and the euphoria of taking the lead in the eighth might have blurred the team's focus just enough.

Goble was able to fan the first Alliance batter in the bottom of the eighth but then things started to unravel. The tying run scored as the next three hitters reached-two on errors and one on an infield single-and suddenly the bases were full of Spartan runners with just one away.

Caden Dean, who had been cold on the Alliance bench for seven innings, came into bat for Barker. He put down a suicide squeeze bunt that scored the winning run just ahead of the throw back to home by Goble.

"The kids played well until the bottom of the eighth," said manager Tim Herrera after the loss. "It was an all-around good game for us. We just lost 3-2. They [the Sidney players] just need to keep their confidence up now. We need to put some more runs on the board, but I have confidence that we'll come through."

Line Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E

Sidney 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 8 3

Alliance 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 3 5 2

Box Score


Goble 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0

Rolls 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 3

Jaggers 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

Means 4 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1

Wakefield 4 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0

Doty 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Rowley 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0

Ellwanger 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Bergstrom 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0

Sidney Pitching


Means 5.2 4 1 1 6 3

Goble 2.1 1 2 1 2 0


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