OMAHA -- Earlier in the week the Anderson Ford American Legion baseball team had to win two elimination games in the area tournament just to qualify for the senior state tournament.
But all that matters now is that the team is sitting good at the state tournament with a 2-0 record in the double-elimination Class A American Division tournament.
The team of players from Lincoln North Star beat Elkhorn 11-0 in six innings on Sunday afternoon in a winner’s bracket game at Creighton Prep High School. North Star beat Papillion-La Vista South 5-4 in its first game of the tournament on Saturday.
Anderson Ford got another great pitching performance from Justin Lottman and scored nine runs in the sixth inning. Lottman also won his last game in the area tournament, when he had nine strikeouts.
Anderson Ford improved its record to 23-16 during the summer season.
“We had two elimination games from not even making it to state, and we won both of those and we came in here with confidence,” Lottman said. “We put up 11 runs, and that’s amazing, especially that last inning. We’re really finding our bats and it makes my job a lot easier on the mound. When our team scores run you can go out there and relax and really focus on hitting spots and not have to worry about giving up a run or two that may cost us the game.”
Anderson Ford qualified for the 16-team state tournament as the runner-up in the Lincoln area tournament. That comes after the team had just a 9-15 record during the spring high school season and lost 11-1 in its only district game in the district tournament.
“It was a big deal just for us to get here, and it felt like when we showed up we were relaxed because we accomplished one of our big goals,” said Rich Bishop, who is the acting head coach for Anderson Ford because Brian Woolsey is out of town. “We got 10 seniors, which is huge. We’ve got a lot of kids who have seen it all, except for state."
For some teams, seniors don’t play in the summer, especially those that are going on to play college sports.
“A big part of it is having 10 seniors,” Bishop said. “That’s probably unusual for most teams to have that many seniors go out. Against most teams we’re older and bigger. You get more reps in the summer when you don’t have school work and all of those things.”
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Lottman isn’t surprised that the team is now having success at state.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because we have a lot of seniors, and we’ve always competed,” Lottman said. “The past two years have been really tough for us. We’ve had a lot of walk-off losses. I think we had nine in one year. We always knew we could compete and now we’re just executing at the end of games. We all believe in each other.”
Lottman got the complete-game win while allowing just four hits, and none for extra bases. He had five strikeouts.
He was rolling early in the game and very efficient. He had only thrown 33 pitches and faced one more batter than the minimum through three innings.
“He’s been North Star’s best pitcher for two years,” Bishop said. “When the kids have confidence in their pitcher, it goes a long way. They know when he goes out there they have a chance to win.”
Anderson Ford got a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning when Gavyn Leitschuck had a lead-off double and then scored on another double by Tyler Bishop. Leitschuck had three hits, and Bishop two RBI.
The lead was just 2-0 until the sixth inning when Anderson Ford batted through the order, took advantage of four walks and scored nine runs.
Aiden Bishop will be the starter for Anderson Ford on Monday against Fremont at 7 p.m. at Creighton Prep. Fremont edged Hastings 3-2 in 8 innings on Sunday. Hastings will face Elkhorn South, who beat Papillion-La Vista South 3-0 on Sunday, while Elkhorn will play Millard South, who held off Creighton Prep 2-0.
Pinnacle Bank 12, Omaha South 8: A pair of five-run innings helped propel Pinnacle Bank to a 2-0 record in the Class A National Division Legion state tournament in Kearney on Sunday.
Luke Sartori led the Pinnacle Bank offensive barrage with a double, triple and two RBIs in a 3-for-5 performance at the plate. Ira Lee picked up the win after tossing four innings, surrending just four hits and three runs. Lee also struck out four.
Pinnacle Bank moves to Monday's 7 p.m. contest against Gretna in Kearney. Gretna rolled Kearney 10-0 in five innings on Sunday. Millard West moves on to play Omaha South after defeating Scottsbluff 11-1 Sunday. Kearney will face Papillion-La Vista, who staved off Millard North 12-9 on Sunday.