Zephyrs capture title in home NTC Tournament
     2014-05-29      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/Sheila Weber Photography - Westco Twin Cities Zephyrs base runner Brad Divan slides safely into third base ahead of the throw to Douglas, Wyo., third baseman Tristan Gray (No. 22) during the teams’ game Sunday in the Zephyrs’ home Nebraska Transport Company Tournament at Cleveland Field in Scottsbluff. Divan and the Zephyrs won the game 11-1 and defeated Douglas on Saturday, 8-2, on their way to completing a four-game tournament sweep and winning the tourney championship. 
The Westco Twin Cities Zephyrs Senior Legion team had its entire roster intact for the first time after other high school spring sports seasons completed action, and the Zephyrs responded by winning all four of their games to win their home Nebraska Transport Company Tournament at Cleveland Field in Scottsbluff.

Westco, which opened the season with a 3-3 split of its first six games, opened tourney play Saturday by routing Wheatland, Wyo., 10-0 in the first game before downing Douglas, Wyo., 8-2 in the second contest.

Twin Cities then returned to action Sunday and rolled past Douglas 11-1 before the Zephyrs downed Alliance 5-1.

The four-game sweep gave Westco a cumulative score of 34-4 for the tourney and six straight wins for a 7-3 record entering a needed four-day span of rest and practice together before the Zephyrs play host to Fort Morgan, Colo., on Friday in a 5 p.m. doubleheader.

“We’re definitely happy getting four wins,” Zephyrs coach Mark Moran said Sunday night. “It gives us a little momentum and something to build on here during a week of practice going up against Fort Morgan on Friday.

“I thought we pitched well in particular. We didn’t give up many hits in all four games; we didn’t walk too many guys. Defensively we did OK, and we swung the bat a little bit off a couple pretty good pitchers.”

In Saturday’s opener against Wheatland, Beau Lofink struck out nine and tossed a one-hitter to power Twin Cities.

Westco scored six runs in the second inning on five hits. Matt Mickey had a two-run double in the frame, while Eric Olsen had a two-run triple for the 6-0 Zephyr lead.

Twin Cities added a single run in the third and then put the game away with three in the fifth as Jason Amateis had a run-scoring single. Jake Schmid ended the game with a two-run double.

Westco pounded out 14 hits. Tristen Donelson went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Jackson Hinze, Schmid and Mickey all had two hits apiece. Hinze and Mickey each scored twice, while Mickey and Schmid each had two RBI.

Leighton Freeze earned the win on the mound in the second game, allowing just three hits.

In downing Douglas on Saturday, Westco started the contest strongly with four runs in the first. The Zephyrs kept it that way until the fourth, when they scored a single run on a Schmid run-scoring single.

In its Sunday win over Douglas, Twin Cities scored in all six innings and pounded out 15 hits.

Five different hitters finished with multiple hits for Westco. Traceten Halley finished 3-for-4 with two RBI. Ty Benson, Schmid, Caleb Geary and Olsen all added two hits each.

Geary, who was making his Zephyrs’ debut, had a run-scoring single in the first and also scored a run. Olsen plated three runs and Benson knocked in a pair. Robbie Cantril finished with a triple, while Trevor Garcia and Halley both had doubles.

Mickey earned the win on the mound against Douglas. He struck out a season-high nine and allowed just a single hit in 4-2/3 innings. Donelson struck out one in relief.

In the Zephyrs’ win in the tournament finale, Benson put together a complete-game effort on the mound. Benson allowed just four hits and struck out five.

“He struggled a bit early but got out of a couple jams,” Moran said of Benson, who held the Spartans hitless in the fourth through sixth innings. “He really helped himself on a couple little bunt plays where he got a couple cheap outs where he could have been in big trouble.”

The Zephyrs made the most of their scoring chances against Alliance ace Jayden Holman, a Western Nebraska Community College recruit.

Holman limited Westco to six hits and struck out nine in five innings of work, including a rare four-strikeout first inning in which Twin Cities capitalized on the catcher’s error to score twice and take a 2-1 lead.

“We struggled a little bit offensively because Holman’s a hard thrower and a hard guy to hit,” Moran said. “But our guys battled against him and we got the pitch count up there, which is what we really wanted to do.”

After plating two runs in each of the first two innings, Westco never trailed the rest of the way.

Offensively, the Zephyrs were led by Hinze, who went 3-for-4 at the plate, scored two runs and drove in one. Halley went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Lofink also finished the game with a RBI on a sacrifice. Hinze and Amateis both had stolen bases.

Gage Lehl scored Alliance’s lone run on a hit by Jordan McCracken in the top of the first. Jeff Heckman led the Spartans offensively by going 2-for-3. Lehl and Francis Jarimillo had stolen bases.

“This is the first time we’ve had all the guys together; all the track guys and soccer guys and all the others,” Moran said. “We’re going to go hard Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and try to get a little better.”

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