Millard West made it interesting Friday in its season opener against Omaha Westside, but the young Wildcats eventually prevailed.
Logan Jacik delivered a run-scoring grounder in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift fifth-ranked Millard West to a 4-3 baseball win against the third-ranked Warriors. Westside tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the inning before the Wildcats rallied.
“A lot of the guys we’ve got playing this season were on the junior varsity last year,” Millard West coach Frank Ryan said. “It’s all pretty new to them, but we did just enough today to get the win.”
The game, originally scheduled for Thursday at Millard West, was moved to Westside’s artificial turf field Friday. The Warriors, the visiting team on their own field, came up just short in the battle of perennial Metro Conference baseball powers.
“A lot of little things hurt us today,” Westside coach Bob Greco said. “We missed some bunts, we made a couple of errors and we misjudged a fly ball in the outfield. But for the first game of the season, it wasn’t too bad.”
Westside threatened against Millard West starter Jacik in the first inning, but the first of three double plays turned by the Wildcats got them out of the inning. That 6-4-3 double play was started after a diving stop by shortstop Ryan Merrill, one of the few returning starters.
The Warriors loaded the bases in the second inning but Jacik got out of the jam by striking out Brock Nemecek. Westside pushed across the first run of the game in the third inning on a run-scoring single by freshman Mitch Hagan, but the inning ended with another double play.
“Those double plays got us out of some early trouble,” Ryan said. “They kept us in the game.”
Millard West tied the game in the fourth when Merrill led off with a double and eventually scored on a passed ball. The Wildcats then took the lead in the fifth with the help of a Westside infield throwing error on a potential double play grounder.
Given new life in the inning, Merrill rapped a sacrifice fly to left off starter Matt Waldron and Jacik followed with an RBI single to right. Waldron’s twin brother Mike came on in relief to get the final out of the inning on a grounder to third base.
Trying to preserve the 3-1 lead, reliever Philip Ehly got the first two outs in the seventh before Mike Waldron reached on an infield error. Jake Meyers then doubled to left to bring home one run and Devin Stueck delivered an opposite-field double to tie the game.
Ehly escaped further damage by getting Christian Hagan to ground out to shortstop Merrill.
The Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the seventh when Zach Toole reached on an error and Ehly sacrificed him to second. Cole Stobbe and Merrill were hit by pitches to load the bases before Jacik’s high bouncer up the middle brought home the winning run.
“For only getting outside 112 days because of the weather, I thought this was a pretty well played game,” Ryan said. “And starting the season with a win is always a positive.”
Om. Westside (0-1) ........................... 001 000 2—3 4 2
Millard West (1-0) ........................... 000 120 1—4 3 2
W: Philip Ehly. L: Mike Waldron. 2B: OW, Jake Meyers, Devin Stueck; MW, Ryan Merrill.
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