Most of the thunder Saturday night came from the Omaha Westside bats.
But when the championship game of the Don Kraft Invitational was over, it was top-ranked Papillion-La Vista South that took home the title.
The Titans (16-2) won the tourney with a 9-6 win over the Warriors in the game played at Millard South. Papio South prevailed despite the fact Westside bashed 18 hits — nine in the first two innings.
“Westside always swings the bats and competes,” Titans coach Bill Lynam said. “Our pitchers got the ball elevated a little too much and they jumped all over it.”
The Warriors (17-5) stranded 10 runners, including three in the seventh inning when they made one final stab at victory. Consecutive two-out singles by Bryce McMullen, Will Frei, Will Patterson and Luke Biggs plated one run and brought dangerous leadoff batter Jake Meyers to the plate.
Meyers, who homered twice against Millard South earlier in the tourney, already had two doubles and a single against the Titans. But reliever Sam Palensky got him to pop out to first baseman Grant Suponchick on the first pitch to end the game.
“I think he got him on something off-speed,” Lynam said. “That situation in the last inning was a little bit scary.”
With the bases loaded and his Titans up by three, Lynam said he was not going to call for an intentional walk to Meyers.
“I never really thought about that,” he said. “They had some guys right behind him in the order (Devin Stueck, Christian Hagan) who also had multiple hits tonight.”
Meyers had started the game with a double but was thrown out at third base when he tried to advance after the ball rolled away from an infielder. Stueck and Hagan followed with singles, but Papio South starter Tegan Nissen escaped the inning by striking out Mitch Hagan and getting Matt Waldron to ground out.
The Titans scored twice in the bottom of the first on an infield error and a steal of home by Palensky. The Warriors then bunched six hits in the second inning to score four — run-scoring singles by Stueck and Christian Hagan, an RBI double by Meyers and a solo home run by McMullen.
Papio South answered with four in the bottom of the second. The big blow was a three-run triple to right by Josh Kiger, who scored the fourth run of the inning on a wild pitch.
“I was trying to protect the plate and I got a slider,” he said. “It felt good to come back like that after they had just scored all those runs.”
The Titans extended their lead to 7-4 in the third on an RBI double by catcher Jake Cockle, but Westside got that run back in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Will Frei. Papio South responded with two in the bottom of the fifth when Cockle belted a two-run homer to left.
The score stayed 9-5 until the seventh, when Westside managed to plate one run before Palensky closed it out. The Warriors finished with three times as many hits as the Titans (18-6).
Lynam said it was gratifying to capture the tough eight-team tourney that featured six ranked teams.
“This tournament is like a mini-district,” he said. “This gives us momentum heading into the last week of the regular season.”
Omaha Westside (17-5)........................040 010 1—6 18 3
Papillion-La Vista South (16-2)..............241 020 x—9 6 0
W: Smith. L: Nemecek. 2B: OW, Meyers 2, McMullen. PLVS, Cockle. 3B: PLVS, Kiger. HR: OW, McMullen. PLVS, Cockle.
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