Despite coming up short at the Central Plains Regional, both head coaches of the Nebraska teams — PI Midwest's Pat Mooney and KB Building Services' Bob Greco — said the experience was overwhelmingly positive.
“It was great,” Greco said. “They've got so many volunteers helping and they really did it right.”
Greco's KB squad (Omaha Westside) finished as the runner-up in the regional at Fargo, N.D. KB bounced back from a first-round loss to stave off elimination three times before losing to Minnesota state runner-up Burnsville in Monday's championship game.
“Despite that (final) loss, our guys had a lot of fun,” Greco said. “We've got a lot of guys coming back and that experience should help us.”
PI Midwest (Omaha Creighton Prep) also was eliminated by Burnsville. In its third consecutive regional appearance, the Nebraska state champion lost its first game Friday and then was ousted from the tourney Sunday.
“It was really nice to get back to that regional again, and they treat you so well there,” Mooney said. “For this team to get as far as it did really said a lot about the way our guys played this summer.”
In a scheduling oddity at the regional, the two Nebraska teams never faced each other. Both teams also lost to the same two teams, Burnsville and Iowa champion Carroll County.
Two final notes on Burnsville: The team was making its first-ever regional appearance, and third baseman Tyler Hanson — a University of Minnesota recruit — was named the regional's Most Valuable Player. He went 5 for 5 in the title game against KB and batted .563 in the tournament.
Nebraska players were among tournament leaders
Several players from the two Nebraska squads were among the regional hitting and pitching leaders.
That list included:
Batting: Jason Allbery (PI Midwest), second at the regional with a .500 average; Alex Allbery (PI Midwest), .400; Zane Zitek (PI Midwest), .385.
Runs: Jake Meyers (KB Building Services), 8; Alex Allbery, 6.
RBIs: Zach Garrett (PI Midwest), led all players at the regional with 7; Devin Stueck (KB), 5.
Doubles: Meyers, 2; Matt Waldron (KB), 2.
Triples: Meyers, 2.
Total bases: Meyers, 11.
Pitching: Waldron, 1-0, led all pitchers at the regional with a 0.00 ERA; Adam Wilson (PI Midwest), 1-0, 1.00 ERA; Meyers, 1-0, 1.12 ERA.
PI Midwest ace Albrecht sees limited regional action
It was an odd regional for PI Midwest ace Jeff Albrecht, who pitched less than five innings after getting the victory Aug. 3 in the state tournament final over KB.
Albrecht started the tourney opener against West Fargo, N.D., but it soon became clear the team from Prep was going to win the game handily. PI Midwest led 14-0 entering the third inning and Albrecht was pulled after two, saving him for a future tourney game.
After McLaine Jonas went seven strong innings in PI Midwest's 3-2 loss Friday, Adam Wilson turned in a complete-game effort in a victory Saturday. Jake Allen drew the start on Sunday and lasted 52⁄3 innings before giving way to Albrecht for the final 21⁄3 innings in a 7-3 loss to Burnsville.
Even with a win Sunday, PI Midwest would have had to win two games Monday to earn its second straight regional title.
“You can always go back and second-guess yourself,” Mooney said. “It just didn't work out for us.”
Albrecht, a Creighton recruit, struck out 18 in a state tournament game against Roof-Tech (Millard West).
Eight-team field is set for Legion World Series
The eight-team field is set for the American Legion World Series, which begins Friday in Shelby, N.C.
The regional champions: Northeast, Branford, Conn.; Mid-Atlantic, Brooklawn, N.J.; Southeast, Wilmington, N.C.; Mid-South, Gonzales, La.; Great Lakes, Napoleon, Ohio; Central Plains, Burnsville, Minn.; Northwest, Waipahu, Hawaii; Western: Petaluma, Calif.
Brooklawn finished as the runner-up last year, losing to New Orleans Post 125 in the final. The defending champion did not qualify for regional play this year.
All games of the Legion World Series will be televised online at ESPN3.com.
Gomez's 1970 mark stands for another year
The batting mark set in 1970 by Jerry Gomez remains the gold standard for state Legion players.
Playing for Anthony's Restaurant (Omaha Archbishop Ryan High School), Gomez batted .587 — a mark that has stood the test of time. Not one player has topped “The Gomez Line” since, and the same can be said this season.
The Senior Legion player with the top average in 2013 was Nate Fisher of Platte Valley, who batted .554.