The two top-ranked teams in Class A finally got together for a baseball game Saturday, and it was as close as expected.
No. 1 Papillion-La Vista South tied the game with three runs in the seventh and went on to defeat No. 2 Millard West 4-3 in nine innings.
The squads had been scheduled to play earlier this season, but that game was postponed by rain. Nasty weather also wiped out the Metro Conference tournament for another possible matchup.
But to the chilled fans at Papio South, Saturday's game was worth the wait. The Titans came storming back late to make a winner of senior Josh Kiger, who pitched 223 innings of solid relief.
“We just couldn't get anything going out there,” Papio South coach Bill Lynam said. “But I thought if we could just get back to the top of the order in the seventh inning that we had a chance.”
The Wildcats (11-3) were in control most of way thanks in large part to sophomore starter Matt Eardensohn and freshman second baseman Cole Stobbe. Eardensohn pitched six scoreless innings and Stobbe belted a two-run homer in the first and a ground-rule double in the fourth that led to the Wildcats' third run.
The Titans (12-1) rallied in the bottom of the seventh against Millard West reliever Philip Ehly. Pinch-hitter Michael Buell got the inning going for Papio South with a one-out walk, but Ehly then struck out Tyler Milz for the second out.
A single by Brent Kirsch, an RBI single by Sam Palensky and a passed ball led up to a two-run single by Kiger that tied the game. The Wildcats escaped further damage when sophomore catcher Jake Kistaitis made a nice grab off a foul pop near the backstop for the final out.
Kiger set down the Wildcats in the eighth and ninth, and the Titans then went to work in the bottom of the ninth. Palensky led off with a single off reliever Nick Hargis, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch.
After an intentional walk to Kiger, Chris May put down a bunt single that loaded the bases with nobody out. Grant Horton then hit a chopper toward the mound that Hargis was unable to field cleanly, and the infield hit brought in Palensky with the winning run.
“Our guys had some really good at-bats in the seventh and ninth,” Lynam said. “I thought our pitching kept us in the game until we finally got something going.”
Millard West (11-3) ........................... 200 100 000—3 5 0
At Papio South (12-1) ........................... 000 000 301—4 12 0
W: Kiger. L: Hargis. 2B: MW, Stobbe, Merrill, Toole. HR: MW, Stobbe.
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