LINCOLN — Once Norris' first state baseball title was within reach, Jakson Reetz wanted to be the one to secure it.
Reetz pitched the final two innings as he and fellow junior Byron Hood combined on a six-hitter to lead the Titans to a 3-2 victory over Lincoln Pius X in the championship game Thursday afternoon in front of 1,294 at Haymarket Park.
“When we came off the field in the sixth inning, (Reetz) said, 'I'm going in.' I said, 'OK,' ” Norris coach Jason Cullison said of Reetz taking over on the mound. “He's a competitor, he wants the ball in his hands.”
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Titans after they lost 1-0 in eight innings to Omaha Skutt on Monday. Norris, which lost to Pius 2-1 in the 2012 state title game, combined to outscore its last four opponents 29-6.
“We persevered,” Reetz said. “Our team knew what we had to do. We had to stay calm.”
Reetz, a Nebraska commit along with Hood, did most of his damage Thursday at the plate before pitching two shutout innings.
Reetz drove in four runs earlier in the day as Norris defeated Omaha Gross 9-2 in the losers bracket final. He scored twice and drove in another during the first three innings against Pius.
Trey Hair and Reetz had doubles in the top of the third inning as Norris (26-2) extended its lead to 3-0. Reetz drove in Hair with his double, and Reetz scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Peterson.
Pius starting pitcher Dan LeDuc settled in after that, retiring 11 straight at one point. And the Thunderbolt offense started to chip away.
Pius (18-3) scored a run in the third when Hood was called for a balk with Nolan Walker at third base, then pinch-hitter Cole Felber lined a two-out, RBI single to left field in the fifth to make it 3-2.
But the Thunderbolts weren't able to string together a big inning. They left runners stranded in scoring position in five of the first six innings.
“We were happy with our approach. We were patient, we had some good swings,” Pius coach Troy Charf said. “We were one hit or one break away from a tie ballgame.”
The Thunderbolts made Hood work as he threw 102 pitches before improving to 6-0. Hood had thrown 143 pitches against Waverly last Saturday in the tournament's opening game.
“I started to feel a little fatigued, but I tried to push through,” Hood said.
“Byron is a dominating pitcher,” Cullison said. “Their game plan seemed to be to take a lot of pitches. We just told him to fill it up, and by the third and fourth innings, he was wheeling and dealing.”
Thursday's win marked the second time in two days that Norris defeated Pius. The Titans stayed alive in the tournament Wednesday with an 8-1 win.
Norris (26-2) ....................................... 102 000 0—3 5 0
Lincoln Pius X (18-3) ........................... 001 010 0—2 6 3
W: Hood. L: LeDuc. S: Reetz. 2B: N, Hair, Reetz.
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