The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle 

Sidney captures title


Don Ogle

Sidney's Junior baseball team captured the Sidney Senior Tournament title over the weekend. Team members include: back row from left, Coach Chris Gabis, Coach Caleb Sutton, Logan Sircy, Arik Doty, Paul Kratzer, Zack Means, Dante Peterson, Brett Jaggers, Coach Ray Witt and Coach Kyle Burton. Front row from left, Kyler Lenzen, Eli Ahrens, James Riva, Izaak Glanz, Zachary Holtz, Jackson Witt and Grant Campbell. Not pictured is Tommy Ellwanger

Since the season opener, Sidney Junior baseball coach Ray Witt has said he really wasn't counting his Juniors' record against Legion Senior teams.

With only two Senior-age players showing up for baseball at the beginning of the season, Sidney was forced to abandon the Senior program and focus on the Juniors. As such, Witt knew from the start the bulk of games played in a Senior schedule would be an uphill battle.

From the start, he maintained his Juniors were a talented group of players and expected big things from them as they grew into their roles.

Turns out, he was right.

Witt's Juniors showed their moxie over the long weekend, defeating three older teams to capture the title in the Sidney Senior Legion Tournament.

Sidney nearly got tripped up in its tournament opener, coming out flat against Hershland. While Sidney has pretty much dominated Hershland on the Junior circuit, its Senior team provided a much bigger challenge.

Sidney lacked defensive hustle against Hershland, and offensively, Sidney bats lacked their normal zing as well. Still, the Juniors managed to escape with a scare and a 4-3 win.

"We talked to them about it," Witt said of the Hershland contest. "They couldn't come out here and expect to do anything playing like that."

Sidney's players took the Hershland lesson to heart, bouncing back with a 10-6 win over Gordon later that same evening.

Playing their first true night game this season, the Juniors' momentum built against Bridgeport Friday evening.

Shutting out Bridgeport in the top of the first, Sidney went to work quickly during its turn at bat.

Logan Sircy led off with a hustling infield single, then went to third when teammate Zach Holtz lined another single into center. Holtz stole second base and Sircy raced home on the throw, putting Sidney up 1-0. When Bridgeport tried to cut Sircy down at the plate, Holtz hustled to third. He scored on a fielder's choice when Brett Jaggers hit his offering to the shortstop.

Jaggers' RBI was the last for Sidney in the first, but the Juniors never looked back. They added another run in the second inning, then unloaded with three more in the third.

Sidney took eight batters to the plate in the third inning, scoring its three runs on as many hits, while Bridgeport contributed two errors.Bridgeport mounted its only serious scoring challenge in the top of the fifth inning when, after a fly out to left, got the next two batters on with consecutive walks.

Looking to halt Bridgeport's drive, Witt called on Means to close the game from the mound. Means gave up a single to left to load the bases, but then struck out the following batter and forced the next into a 4-3 ground out.

With the 8-0 shutout, Sidney claimed the tournament title by virtue of having given up the fewest runs on top of undefeated play. Chappell, which was also 3-0 at that point, had allowed two more runs defensively and could not match the Juniors' defensive performance.

And Witt was more than pleased to count these senior games.

"For them to come in here and beat three senior teams – that's big," Witt said. "I'm just tickled with the way we played this weekend."

Witt said as much as anything, Sidney's play in the tournament shows what his squad is capable of accomplishing.

Now, he said, their stamina is going to be tested next. This week Sidney has five games in four days, including a double-header against Chadron. The remaining games are against Gering and Alliance on the road, and a Thursday game at home with Ogallala.


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