By Adam Burns
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The Gretna Thunder Gold had hoped for a stronger start to the 2019 Omaha SlumpBuster tournament.
At the very least, the 12-year-old squad from Nebraska wanted to win one of two contests on opening day of the Division I Invite Only Championships. Instead, the Thunder on Wednesday dropped both games — 16-6 to the Ohio Spiders Elite and 5-4 to the Kansas City Siege.
“We just took yesterday and threw it into the trash can,” Thunder coach Kyle Janssen said.
Behind a 15-hit outburst, the Thunder bounced back with a 20-6 run-rule victory over D-Bat Elite (Griffin) on Thursday morning.
“It was important to get a win,” said Trevor Cox, who led the Thunder offensively. “We knew we had to put the bat on the ball to get some runs and beat this team.”
Cox did his part, driving in five runs on two hits. There was no secret to his success, he said.
“Just going up there and do what I do,” Cox said.
On the team’s successful day, one that followed a rough Wednesday, Tyler Cox, Trevor’s twin brother, said the key was simple.
“We hit the ball around and played good defense, and we didn't have many errors,” he said.
After the 0-2 showing on Wednesday, the Thunder wasted little time in bringing out the bats, scoring a combined 12 runs in the first two innings.
“They came out swinging today. They hit the ball around the park really well,” Janssen said. “We knew that they were going to hit it. All these teams are really good. We just need to keep our foot on the accelerator.”
The Thunder added a run in the third for a 12-1 lead. But D-Bat finally got to Thunder starter Karson Skokan in the third inning, tallying five runs to knock Skokan out of the game. Skokan recorded two strikeouts.
From there, the Thunder didn’t settle for the six-run cushion, as they poured it on with a seven-run fourth before Brody Bernal tossed a scoreless frame to secure the run-rule win after four innings.
Grant Gilbreath and Griffin Goldman each tallied two-hit performances, while Ike Jarzynka and Tanner Erdkamp drove in two runs apiece.
“The kids played great today,” Janssen said. “They hit it around the park and bounced back great from yesterday. I was proud of them.”
Going forward, the Thunder hope to continue that offensive success into Friday, the opening of bracket play.
“We have some good momentum with this win to end pool play on a positive note,” Janssen said.