Fort Calhoun Senior Legion pitcher Benaiah Fern felt good throwing his curveball and cutter Friday night.
So good, in fact, that he didn't feel any extra pressure needing three outs to complete his home diamond shutout against Syracuse.
“I was just treating it like any other inning,” Fern said. “I put a little bit extra on my fastballs there, but I just wanted to get out of there with no runs allowed.”
Two strikeouts and a groundout to Joel Fern at shortstop capped the Post 348 Pioneers' 3-0 win. The victory was the team's second second straight after a winless start to the American Legion season. The next night, the home team pushed its winning streak to three games against Louisville-Weeping Water.
After Benaiah Fern finished the first three Syracuse batters 1-2-3, Fort Calhoun picked up its first, second and third runs all during the bottom of the first inning. Jamie Warner's sacrifice fly started the scoring before Justin Myer notched a 2-RBI double to push his team's lead to its eventual final score.
Myer believed the quick runs helped the Pioneers settle in, especially with newcomers in the lineup. Owen Newbold and Austin Welchert, who was an eighth-grader last month, were filling in for a few regular starters who were absent.
“We were definitely relaxed,” Myer said. “(The lead) calmed our younger guys down, being able to make those plays and not having to worry about giving up runs or putting pressure on our pitcher.”
Fort Calhoun certainly didn't seem bothered by any pressure Syracuse applied. With two runners on and none out during the second inning, Fern and company shut Post 100 down.
Later during the fourth frame, Warner, a centerfielder, saved a run with an on-target throw to Pioneers catcher Kaden Therkildsen on what Syracuse had hoped would be a sacrifice fly.
“That was great,” Fern said. “He's got a good arm out there, so, hopefully, we see more of that.”
The strong play in the field continued for Post 348 through the final inning.
“Our defense was doing great,” Fern said. “We had a few mistakes here and there, but we picked it up and had a couple of double plays.”
Fort Calhoun's winning pitcher finished with a complete game, two-hit shutout with that strong defensive play behind him.
The Post 348 Junior team fell to Syracuse 12-3, while Saturday's game was cancelled.
Pioneers earn Saturday walk-off win
The Pioneers' winning streak improved to three games with a come-from-behind, walk-off win against Louisville-Weeping Water on Saturday night.
Tylan Conner provided the game-winning hit, scoring two with a single to left field during the seventh inning. The knock capped a three-run seventh for Fort Calhoun, which won 7-6 to improve to 3-4 overall.
Warner earned the win on the mound, pitching two scoreless innings.