Nevada came into The American Legion World Series off a regional in which they scored 66 runs in five games.
On Thursday in Game 2 of the ALWS, it was Nebraska, Nevada’s opponent, lighting up the scoreboard, with 21 hits in a 9-1 win.
The 21 hits were one shy of the ALWS record, and for the first time, four players from the same team each had four hits. Tom Steier and Will Hanafan were each 4-for-6 while Zach Luckey and Cameron Blossom each were 4-for-5.
“I’m very pleased with what we did with the bats today,” Nebraska coach Pat Mooney said. “We bunted very well today; I think five of them were bunt hits. … You get up a couple runs, the bats seem to go through the zone a little easier.”
Nebraska (55-5) jumped out early, with Dylan Phillips’ two-run double scoring Hanafan and Luckey for a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Hanafan made it 4-0 with a single in the top of the fourth, driving home Evan Laney and Blossom, and Luckey’s double scored Steier to make it 5-0 after four innings.
“I think that middle approach (to batting) really helped us; we were able to pull inside pitches and take outside pitches the other way,” Hanafan said.
Meanwhile, Nevada (54-8), which batted .395 as a team in the regional, didn’t muster a hit until the fifth inning. Josh Culliver threw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five.
“It was a real big team game,” said Hanafan, who tied Phillips with a game-high three RBI. “Josh (Culliver) threw outstanding, kinda diced them up for six or seven innings, obviously we hit the ball really well. … It was a really big team effort today.”
While Mooney’s team played in last year’s ALWS, the entire starting batting lineup were rookies to Keeter Stadium.
“But the six guys we did have coming back, they put some of the young guys at ease,” he said.
Nebraska will face Michigan, which lost 3-2 in 10 innings in Game 1 vs. Massachusetts, in Game 5 Friday afternoon. Nevada plays Massachusetts in Game 6 Friday night.