Zephyrs enter loaded area tournament as No. 1 seed: Westco Twin Cities rebounds from tough Montana tourney to go 3-1 in wood bat event
     2014-07-17      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/Sheila Weber Photography - Westco Twin Cities Zephyr Senior Trevor Garcia slides to the base in attempt to arrive safe against Thompson Valley during the Kelley Bean Classic held on June 29 at Cleveland Field. 
The Westco Twin Cities Zephyrs Senior American Legion baseball team put a rough Independence Day weekend behind them and emerged from the Zephyrs’ home Scottsbluff Screenprinting Wood Bat Tournament with a 3-1 record Saturday and Sunday.

The Zephyrs’ last tourney win, a 9-0 romp over the Alliance Spartans, lifted Westco Twin Cities to 33-16 on the season and to a 4-1 week after the Z’s were outscored 53-26 in a 1-4 stretch July 3-7 in Montana and Wyoming.

The results in the wood-bat tournament at Cleveland Field were just what Westco Twin Cities needed heading into this week, which, after single games at Cheyenne, Wyo., on Tuesday and at Alliance on Wednesday, will mark the start of the Class A Area 7 Tournament in North Platte.

“It was a good weekend for us,” Zephyrs coach Mark Moran said of the wood-bat tournament in which Westco Twin Cities defeated McCook 5-2 and Canon City, Colo. 9-0 on Saturday, lost to Canon City 4-2 on Sunday morning before finishing strong with a 9-0 win over Alliance.

“We pitched really well in all the games,” Moran said. “We hit just enough in a couple games to win. In the loss, we let a couple balls get through and Canon City took advantage of that.”

Combined with an 11-1 home win over Chadron last Wednesday, the Zephyrs answered their 1-4 slump with a 4-1 run.

“We needed to play better to regain some confidence, and I think we’ve done that the last five games,” Moran said Monday.

“We played some really good teams (in Wyoming and Montana), and when you don’t play your best against teams with that kind of talent, you’re going to struggle and that’s what happened to us. We didn’t play great and we couldn’t overcome some of those mistakes.”

In their first win of the week, the Z’s rode a one-hit pitching effort by Leighton Freeze to ice the Chadron First Nationals in a six-inning victory. Freeze allowed one earned run, walked just one and struck out three in his six-inning complete game win.

Westco Twin Cities scored four runs in the fourth that included RBI singles by Trevor Garcia and Caleb Geary. Geary had a perfect night at the plate by going 3-for-3.

In their opener of the Scottsbluff Screenprinting Wood Bat Tournament, the Zephyrs got two extra-base hits by Garcia on their way to downing McCook. Garcia tripled in the fifth inning and doubled in the sixth inning.

Beau Lofink struck out nine hitters en route to gaining the pitching victory. Lofink allowed one earned run, five hits and six walks over seven innings.

Westco Twin Cities went up for good in the fifth inning, scoring four runs on two doubles and two singles.

In the Zephyrs’ first meeting against Canon City, Matthew Mickey shut down the visitors by striking out 10 in scoring a three-hit shutout.

Five runs in the first three innings allowed Westco Twin Cities to put the game away early. An RBI single by Traceton Halley in the first inning and an RBI single by Geary, a hit by pitch, a fielder’s choice, and during the second inning helped the Zephyrs score early.

Ty Benson went 3-for-3 against Canon City’s pitching. He singled in the first and second innings and tripled in the Zephyrs’ four-run fourth inning rally.

Canon City committed five errors in its loss to Westco Twin Cities on Saturday. But the guests rebounded Sunday morning, rallying to score a 4-2 win.

The Zephyrs led until the sixth inning, but Canon City worked its way back and took the lead on a two-run error.

Dante Teigen got the pitching win for Canon City. Teigen allowed two runs over seven innings, struck out six, walked two and surrendered just two hits.

Jason Amateis was charged with the loss for Westco Twin Cities. He lasted 5-1/3 innings, walked two, struck out two and allowed four runs.

The Zephyrs rebounded from the loss to finish the tournament with another 9-0 win, beating Alliance after pouring on seven runs in the second inning and getting another strong performance from Freeze.

Westco Twin Cities started the rally with a run scored on a fielder’s choice, a sacrifice fly by Jackson Hinze, a two-run double by Lofink, a two-run single by Mickey and an RBI single by Jacob Schmid.

Garcia went a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish for the Zephyrs. Garcia singled in the second inning and tripled in the fourth inning.

Freeze kept Alliance off the scoreboard for all five innings he was on the hill. He allowed no runs on two hits while striking out six.

Area 7 Tournament

The Zephyrs are the No. 1 seed in the five-team area tournament at Bill Wood Field in North Platte, which begins Friday with No. 4 seed Kearney Runza Post 52 against No. 5 Lexington Pinnacle Bank and No. 2 North Platte First Nationals vs. No. 3 Hastings Five Points Bank Post 11.

Westco Twin Cities plays the Kearney-Lexington winner on Saturday.

“Our record got us the number one seed, but I don’t think it means too much,” Moran said. “The other teams, from what I’ve heard from guys, are all very good, sound, solid, well-coached teams. I think that whoever plays best this weekend is going to happen. I don’t think seeding has much to do with it.

“The seeding is a measure of your whole season, which really has nothing to do what your number one pitcher is like. You can be the fourth seed and have the best starting pitcher, which is exactly the case this year. Kearney has the best starter, so they have the advantage even though they are the fourth seed.”

Area tournament action continues through Tuesday, when the champion will be determined and advance to the Nebraska State National League Tournament in Grand Island. The runner-up will play in the American League State Tournament at Omaha South.

Moran said playing time at Cheyenne and Alliance would be well distributed with the Zephyrs preparing for area play.

“You don’t take six days off from playing games all summer, so to me it makes no sense to do that right before your area tournament,” he said. “Hopefully those games will keep us fresh, and then we’ll have a couple practice days and head down to North Platte.”

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