LINCOLN — Lincoln Pius X junior Cole Felber had plenty of experience as a pinch hitter for the Thunderbolts this season, so it was no surprise when his name was called in the bottom of the seventh with the winning run at second base.
“They told me I might get up if some runners got on base,” Felber said.
Felber came off the bench and delivered the game-winning RBI single in Pius X's 3-2 win over Gretna in the first round of the Class B tournament Saturday at Haymarket Park.
Felber took a fast ball on the inner half of the plate from Gretna's Cole Samuelson and grounded it into left field letting Tom Schneider race home from second with the winning run.
“You've just got to have a mentality of going up there and putting a good swing on the ball and do your best,” Felber said.
Schneider drew a walk to open the inning, which ended Gretna pitcher Zach Howell's day on the mound. Samuelson entered for Gretna and struck out Rex Raetz for the second out after Mike Helman's sacrifice, before Felber delivered the game-winner.
The Thunderbolts will play Omaha Gross in a winner's bracket game Monday at 7 p.m.
Pius X (16-1) got single runs in the third and fifth innings to take a 2-0 lead, which appeared like it might be enough for senior pitcher Dan LeDuc, who retired the first 15 Gretna batters.
But Gretna (11-7) rallied in the sixth inning with their first two hits to start the inning. Howell singled and scored on a throwing error, and Jake Derr came home on Caleb Koch's sacrifice fly to tie the game 2-2.
“We talked about the fact when they tied that game up, we came back in the dugout and posed the rhetorical question 'What did you expect?'” Pius X coach Troy Charf said. “It's a state tournament game and a tight ball game. What else do you want?”
LeDuc stayed in and worked around a two-out single in the seventh to get the complete-game win after Felber's heroics.
“We say battle through adversity so much that an outsider might say it's cliche, but it's so ingrained in our kids,” Charf said. “We can only control so much, and when adversity hits, you've got to battle through. That's what that was. There was no question that was going to be his game. His pitch count was fine, so we were sticking with him unless things got into double-digit innings.”
Gretna (11-7)…..........................000 002 0 — 2 3 2
Lincoln Pius X (16-1)……................001 010 1 — 3 7 1
W: LeDuc (5-1). L: Howell (2-2). 2B: LPX, Schneider, Hakel.