Northeast pitcher Chase Cleland and Liberal (Mo.) pitcher Colton Selvey engaged in an epic pitchers’ duel Monday afternoon.

Northeast pitcher Chase Cleland and Liberal (Mo.) pitcher Colton Selvey engaged in an epic pitchers’ duel Monday afternoon.

Both pitchers, however, took no-decisions. Cleland allowed no runs and two hits over 9.0 innings and Selvey no runs and no hits over 9.0 innings. Cleland struck out 16 batters and Selvey 19, including a stretch of seven consecutive Liberal and Northeast hitters from the last out of the bottom of the first to the first batter of the third.

Liberal won on an unearned run in the bottom of the 11th and catcher Dylan Massa drove in this only run of the game on an infield single with two outs and the bases loaded with Bulldogs. Liberal advanced to the championship game of the Northeast Invitational and Northeast played Chetopa for third.

“The first game was one of those games you never know, especially the first game of the year, 11 innings, 1-0 and you lose it on an unearned run,” Northeast head coach Shane Wade said. “We just couldn’t hit. You’re talking about a kid (Colton Selvey) that throws 86, 87 continually and our kid, Chase Cleland, pitched well and so did J.T. Richardson whenever he came in. We just didn’t execute when we needed to and that’s the small and short of it.”

Call it the pitchers being ahead of the batters early in the season or call it first-game jitters for Northeast or call it the new bats affecting offensive productivity but Cleland and Selvey were in vintage lights out form. Selvey found his breaking ball started working on top of his fastball and Cleland located the ball expertly all day, inside and outside, keeping hitters on edge.

Northeast freshmen made a pair of mental mistakes on the basepaths — Antonio Slingluff was picked off at second in the eighth and Dennis Hensley was caught stealing at third in the 11th, both mistakes derailing potential rallies. Hensley reached on the only Northeast hit of the game, a ball hit deep in the hole on the left side of the infield but not into the outfield.

“Whenever you’re starting four freshmen the first game, that’s going to happen but if a senior makes that mistake, then I’m hot,” Wade said. “You’ve got to live and die with that (freshmen mistakes) and I’ll live with it. Kids played hard today. Been out here for 8, 9 hours, they’re zonked so we’ve got to get ready for Jayhawk-Linn on Thursday. It will be a tough one.”

Liberal capitalized on its opportunities in the bottom of the 11th and won a game where both teams pitched well enough to win.

A couple hours later, the Vikings won 19-5 in five innings for third place.

Against the Hornets of Chetopa, Northeast (playing as the road team in both games) jumped out quickly with a 10-run first inning, scoring its 10 runs on seven hits and five Chetopa errors. Freshman first baseman Jacob Bryant made his first high school at-bat a good one with a two-RBI double and junior transfer Killian Willard brought home two runs with a single.

“We came out of our shell a little bit, rattled our bats a little bit and scored 10 runs that first inning but couldn’t close the deal until the fifth inning,” Wade said. “We should have closed it a lot earlier but that comes with time.”

Northeast (1-1) tacked on six more runs in the fifth — scored on a RBI single by freshman Seth Chandler, a RBI single by Cole Courtney, a RBI single by Hensley, a RBI fielder’s choice by Cleland and a 2-RBI single by Cole Robinson.

The Vikings were not as fortunate on the softball portion of the Northeast Invitational — a 31-15 loss to Liberal to start the day and then a 23-8 loss to St. Paul in the consolation game.

Both Northeast teams play Jayhawk-Linn at home on Thursday.

Liberal (Mo.) 1, Northeast 0 (11 innings)
NE    000 000 000 00 — 0 1 2
LHS    000 000 000 01 — 1 4 1
Chase Cleland, J.T. Richardson (10) and Richardson and Noah Popejoy (10). Colton Selvey, Paul Dingman (10) and Dylan Massa. WP — Dingman. LP — Richardson. E — Seth Chandler, Popejoy; Reed Kirby. 2B — Garrett Miller. HBP — Cleland, Antonio Slingluff 2. CS — Slingluff, Dennis Hensley.

Northeast 19, Chetopa 5 (5 innings)
NE    (10)03 06 — 19 17 3
CHE     100     22 —  5   4  7
J.T. Richardson, Killian Willard (4), Cole Robinson (4), Seth Chandler (5) and Noah Popejoy. Josh Dvorak, Derrick Cassell (2) and Justice Riddle. WP — Richardson. LP — Dvorak. 2B — Jacob Bryant.