A nightmare of a first inning doomed top-ranked Papillion-La Vista South on Tuesday night at the Class A state baseball tournament.
Omaha Westside scored eight runs before the Titans even came to bat and went on to post a 16-12 victory in a winners bracket game at Werner Park. The second-ranked Warriors are the last unbeaten team left in the double-elimination tourney and are now in the driver's seat for their sixth state title.
“You don't win too many games when you give up eight runs in the first,'' Papio South coach Bill Lynam said. “We battled back to get it within 10-7, but our pitchers didn't have their best nights, and we played pretty shoddy defense.''
The Warriors took advantage of 10 walks and seven Titans errors. At one point late in the game, Papio South's line score read 7-7-7.
But it all went back to the top of the first, which lasted 30 minutes. Westside sent 13 batters to the plate and knocked out starter Tegan Nissen — the first of six Papio South pitchers — before he had gotten an out.
“I was sure happy for that first inning,” Warriors coach Bob Greco said. “They got close after that, and I was getting a little scared because they really compete.”
Westside had six hits in the first, and the Titans committed three errors. Matt Waldron had a two-run double in the inning while three other players — Christian Hagan, Mitchell Hagan and Will Frei — also added RBIs.
Papio South scored twice in the first, but Westside countered with two in the second on a two-run single by Christian Hagan. The Titans showed they weren't going away by plating three in the second and two more in the third to creep within 10-7.
The Warriors extended their lead in the fourth by pushing across five more runs. Jake Meyers had a two-run single and Will Patterson drove in another with a single to left.
Westside added one run in the fifth to make it 16-7 before the Titans scored five in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Brock Nemecek. But it wasn't enough to catch the Warriors and Nemecek, who threw five innings in relief of starter Christian Hagan to pick up the victory.
The win sends Westside into a 4 p.m. game Wednesday against Millard South at Fricke Field. Papio South will play crosstown rival Papillion-La Vista in the 7 p.m. game.
Greco said he was going to warn his team against getting complacent after seeing what happened last year during the American Legion season. Westside was in a similar position but then lost its next two games as the team from Omaha Creighton Prep went on to win the Legion title.
“We won this game and then we laid two eggs after that,” he said. “We want to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
Lynam said his squad will need to bounce back against the Monarchs, who defeated the Titans 4-2 earlier this season.
“(Head coach) Nate (McCabe) has done a nice job with that team,” he said. “We'll both be fighting to play on the last day of the year.”
The Class A final will be played at 10 a.m. Thursday at Werner Park. A second game could follow at 1 p.m., if necessary.
Omaha Westside (24-5) ................... 820 510 0—16 13 3
Papillion-La Vista South (22-3) ........... 232 000 5—12 9 7
W: Nemecek. L: Nissen. 2B: OW, Matt Waldron, Mike Waldron. PLVS, Hansen 2, May, Kiger, Greco.
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