LINCOLN — Omaha Gross was on the wrong end of some lopsided scores during the regular season, including being outscored 28-0 combined in the two games leading up to the Class B state tournament.
But the sixth-seeded Cougars took advantage of the fresh start in the postseason and knocked off third-seeded Omaha Roncalli 5-2 in a first-round game at Haymarket Park Saturday.
“It's an up-and-down season we've had,” Gross coach Mike Filipowicz said. “The weather has been a part of it. When we've lost, we've lost by some large scores and haven't been competitive. The state tournament can change all that just by coming to the park and being a little more focused on what we're trying to do.”
After Roncalli (14-3) beat Gross 11-1 in a game shortened by the 10-run rule on April 27, Filipowicz said it was important for his team to get off to a fast start in the rematch. The Cougars complied with a pair of runs in both the second and third innings helped by some Roncalli miscues.
Gross' Nate Crnkovich scored the game's first run on a throwing error by Roncalli pitcher Adam Fleming in the second, and Joe Coenen came home on Connor Clark's RBI ground out to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Gross made it 4-0 in the third when shortstop Kevin Handzlik reached on a dropped third strike and scored on pitcher Cragin Missak's single. Missak then stole second and came home on Zach Knicky's RBI single.
Missak handled things on the mound for Gross (10-7), pitching a complete game and allowing just one hit through the first six innings. The senior right-hander struck out three and needed just 71 pitches in an efficient outing that included throwing fewer than 10 pitches in four different innings.
“My fastball was working better than it had been lately,” Missak said. “Just getting ahead of hitters and getting quick innings. In districts, it wasn't as good as it was today.”
“When Cragin Missak goes out there he's got great command,” Filipowicz said. “The kids feed off that and play the game really hard behind him.”
Roncalli touched Missak for two runs in the seventh on RBI base hits from Tyler Crawford and Jared Sorenson, but it wasn't enough to keep the Crimson Pride out of a consolation bracket game Monday at Sherman Field.
Omaha Gross (10-7) ............... 022 100 0—5 5 1
Omaha Roncalli (14-3) ............. 000 000 2—2 4 2
W: Missak (5-1). L: Fleming (6-1). 3B: OG, Clark, Coenen; 2B: OR, Crawford
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