Bellevue West’s varsity baseball team had won 12 straight before dropping a game to Omaha Westside on Tuesday, April 13, just days before the Metro conference tournament was set to begin on Thursday, April 15.
Despite the extra inning loss to Westside earlier in the week, Bellevue West was the the #2 seed in the Metro conference tournament behind only Millard South. Their first tournament matchup against Omaha Northwest went exactly as planned as the Thunderbirds routed the Huskies 13-3 after six innings.
After the win, Bellevue West advanced to play Omaha Central later that night. Dane Toman drew the start on the mound for the T-Birds as he shut down the Eagles for three innings before allowing four runs in the fourth but Bellevue West still had a 6-4 lead. The Thunderbirds hit .321 as a team and buckled down on the defensive end to tough out a 6-4 win.
Now solidified in the winners’ bracket, head coach Jason Shockey and company enjoyed Friday off before returning to the diamond against the Papillion-La Vista Monarchs on Saturday, April 17, in the semifinal round of the Metro conference tournament. Still with home field advantage, the T-Birds shut down the Monarchs in no-hit fashion behind the arm of senior Jaxon Jelkin. Jelkin threw for a complete seven innings with no runs on no hits, 14 strikeouts and only two walks.
April 18’s championship game took place under the lights on UNO’s Tal Anderson Field and featured a top-10 Nebraska matchup with Bellevue West and Millard West. The Thunderbirds wasted no time on the big stage as they tacked on two runs in the bottom of the first and, for a while, were chasing another no-hitter behind the arm of Jack Bland.
The T-Birds added one more in the bottom of the third and had a monstrous fifth inning with five runs to take a 8-0 lead into the top of the sixth. Despite the lack of hits, Millard West found themselves with runners in scoring position but could never capitalize until the top of the seventh and by then it was too late. Bland went a full seven innings and allowed three hits, one run and one walk alongside two strikeouts. Bland, Cam Madsen, Gage Allen and Tyler VanDerwerken all hit .500 on the night with two hits each.
Capturing the Metro conference tournament is surely something to be proud of but Bellevue West won’t be able to celebrate for long. They are slated to face a very talented Elkhorn team on Monday, April 19, at home and then travel to face Millard South the following night on April 20.