Top-ranked Papillion-La Vista South struggled Thursday against unranked Lincoln East, but Brent Kirsch came to the rescue.
The senior third baseman belted a two-run walk-off homer to lift the Titans to a 4-2, eight-inning win in the first game of the Don Kraft Invitational at Millard South. The extra-inning victory kept Papio South (14-2) in the winners bracket of the eight-team tourney and prevented the Titans from losing for the second straight day.
Crosstown rival Papillion-La Vista defeated Papio South 4-2 on Wednesday night at Werner Park.
“We’re in a little bit of a funk right now,” Titans coach Bill Lynam said. “But Brent got the big hit for us today and hopefully this will help lift us out of it.”
Papio South had done little offensively against Spartans starter Jake Snyder after grabbing the lead with a two-run first inning. He was working on a two-hitter when Tyler Apgar struck out to lead off the eighth but reached first safely when the throw by catcher Jon Lyons barely pulled first baseman Brad Martins off the bag.
A sacrifice by Tyler Milz brought up Kirsch, who hit a long fly to left that kept carrying right over the fence.
“With two strikes on me, I was just trying to protect the plate,” Kirsch said. “I wasn’t sure it was going out, but I’m happy it did.”
Kirsch said the loss the previous night acted as incentive Thursday against Lincoln East.
“We haven’t been hitting the ball real well,” he said. “And we didn’t want to lose another one.”
The Titans grabbed their 2-0, first-inning lead on a throwing error and a run-scoring triple to right by Chris May. The Spartans got one run back in the third on an RBI single by Eric Barton and tied it in the sixth when Martins scored on the back end of a double steal.
Snyder allowed just two base runners after the first inning before the Titans finally got to him in the eighth. He struck out eight and walked one to take the hard-luck loss.
“He mixed his pitches up really well,” Lynam said. “And they played good defense behind him.”
The Spartans had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with two out. But reliever Tegan Nissen struck out Hank Neal to end the inning, and Nissen then picked up the victory when the Titans scored in the bottom of the inning.
Starter Grant Suponchick allowed six hits in six innings for the Titans and Matt Rodgers pitched a 1-2-3 seventh.
Lynam said it was a good start to the competitive tournament that includes six teams ranked in Class A.
“This is a tough tourney, so this is a quality win,” he said. “We need to keep it going because districts aren’t far off.”
Lincoln East (6-10) ........................... 001 001 00—2 7 2
Papillion-LVS (14-2) ........................... 200 000 02—4 3 1
W: Nissen. L: Snyder. 2B: LE, Martins. 3B: PLVS, May. HR: PLVS, Kirsch.
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District tourney to begin next week
The district baseball tournaments will begin next week, with six home sites in Class A and six in Class B.
Defending Class A champion Omaha Creighton Prep will host District A-2, which begins May 3. Defending Class B champ Lincoln Pius X will host the B-2 District that starts May 3 at Sherman Field.
The district champions and two wild cards in each class will advance to the state tournament that begins May 11. The Class A portion of the state tourney will be played primarily at Werner Park in Papillion while the Class B state tourney will be played primarily at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.
The district tournament schedule:
A-1, at Papillion-La Vista South
May 3: Bellevue East vs. Om. Benson, 4:30. May 4: Papillion-La Vista South vs. BE-Benson winner, 11 a.m.; Lincoln Northeast vs. Om. Central, 1 p.m. Final May 6, 4:30 p.m.
A-2, at Omaha Creighton Prep
May 4: Om. South vs. Om. Northwest, 10 a.m.; Om. Creighton Prep vs. South-NW winner, 12:30 p.m.; Papillion-La Vista vs. Fremont Bergan, 3. Final May 6, 7 p.m.
A-3, at Millard West
May 4: Millard West vs. Norfolk, noon; Om. North vs. Lincoln East, 2:30. Final May 6, 5 p.m.
A-4, at Omaha Westside
May 4: Om. Westside vs. Lincoln High, noon; Bellevue West vs. Columbus, 2:30 p.m. Final May 6, 5 p.m.
A-5, at Millard North
May 4: Millard North vs. Lincoln Southwest, noon; Lincoln North Star vs. Lincoln Southeast, 2:30. Final May 6, 7 p.m.
A-6, at Omaha Burke
May 4: Millard South vs. Om. Bryan, 1 p.m.; Om. Burke vs. Grand Island, 4:30. Final May 6, 6 p.m.
B-1, at Norris (Hickman Park)
May 4: Wayne vs. Douglas County West, noon; Om. Gross vs. Bennington, 2:30 p.m.; Norris vs. Wayne-DC West winner, 5. Final May 6, 6 p.m.
B-2, at Lincoln (Sherman Field)
May 4: Beatrice vs. Thurston-Cuming County, 11 a.m.; Lincoln Pius X vs. Beatrice-TC winner, 1:15 p.m.; Gretna vs. Seward, 3:30. Final May 6, 6 p.m.
B-3, at Omaha Skutt
May 3: West Point GACC vs. Plattsmouth, 6 p.m. May 4: Om. Skutt vs. GACC-Plattsmouth winner, 1 p.m.; South Sioux City vs. Elkhorn Mount Michael, 3:30. Final May 6, 6 p.m.
B-4, at Wahoo (Sam Crawford Field)
May 4: Wahoo/Raymond Central/Lincoln Lutheran vs. Nebraska City, 1 p.m.; Elkhorn South vs. Platte Valley, 4. Final May 6, 6 p.m.
B-5, at Omaha Roncalli
May 4: Om. Roncalli vs. Fort Calhoun, noon; Crete vs. Blair, 2:30. Final May 6, 5 p.m.
B-6, at Elkhorn (Legion Field)
May 4: Elkhorn vs. Arlington, 1 p.m.; Waverly vs. Ralston 4. Final May 6, 6 p.m.