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Elmwood Murdock Nehawka American Legion baseball

FALLS CITY – Elmwood-Murdock/Nehawka athletes began Saturday’s league tournament title game as contenders for the conference crown.

The Nationals walked off the diamond as champions.

Elmwood-Murdock/Nehawka outdueled Syracuse 7-0 to win the Southeastern Nebraska Baseball Conference Junior Legion Tournament. The fourth-seeded Nationals earned the program’s fourth league tournament title in the past decade. E-M/N also won SENBC Junior Legion championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

E-M/N head coach Dave Lutz said members of the coaching staff were ecstatic with the effort of the Nationals over the past week. The team defeated Plattsmouth 12-0 in the Northern Division semifinals and edged Louisville/Weeping Water 2-1 in the divisional title game. E-M/N completed its first-place run with the shutout over Syracuse.

“We were very happy with the way the team performed in the tourney,” Lutz said. “Our pitching and defense were solid only giving up one run in the tournament.”

The teams battled for first-place honors on the hottest day of the summer. The heat index at Falls City’s diamond was 110 when the game tipped off at 4 p.m. Those numbers remained above 105 degrees for the next two hours as dew points were in the upper 70s.

Elmwood-Murdock/Nehawka starting pitcher Jakob Boucher and Syracuse’s Braden LaFollette kept both offenses cool through the first three innings. The teams were scoreless during the opening portion of the game.

The storyline changed in the top of the fourth inning. E-M/N stormed ahead with five runs in the frame. Lutz said that gave the Nationals a large amount of confidence the rest of the way.

“The five-run inning was huge and just allowed the kids to relax after that and go out and make plays with no pressure,” Lutz said. “Before the five runs both pitchers were recording a lot of strikeouts and easy outs, and you could feel the tension with the struggles at the plate. But again, once we scored the five our kids played really loose and just believed in each other and just trusted that we would finish strong.”

Boucher kept the shutout intact with his work the next three innings. He finished the day with six strikeouts in six innings on the mound. Lane Fox entered the game in the seventh inning and kept Syracuse from generating any offense.

Noah Willey helped E-M/N’s scoring attack with three hits and two runs batted in. Owen Snipes posted two hits, one walk and one RBI, and Austin Boucher drove in a pair of runs for the team.

Jakob Boucher collected two hits, Jaxson Spellman had one hit and Cameron Spiegel collected one RBI. Ty Fox added one walk in the victory.

Elmwood-Murdock/Nehawka (15-7) knotted the season series against Syracuse (10-6). The Rockets had edged the Nationals 6-5 at Syracuse Sports Complex in late May.

E-M/N will resume its season July 6 with a 1 p.m. game at Waterloo/Valley. The team will play at Malcolm July 7 before hosting Adams in Nehawka at 5:30 p.m. July 8. The Nationals will begin the Area C3 Tournament July 12 at Yutan.

Elmwood-Murdock/Nehawka    000 502 0 – 7 10 0

Syracuse                                     000 000 0 – 0  6  1

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