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Creighton Prep ready for first American Legion postseason trip in five years

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Five Points Bank (Omaha Creighton Prep) has a solid reputation for success in the American Legion postseason.

That’s why it might be somewhat surprising that it’s been five years since the Junior Jays have qualified for a regional.

Coach Pat Mooney’s squad accomplished that goal this summer, finishing as the Class A state runner-up. Five Points Bank will begin play Wednesday at the Central Plains Regional in Rapid City, S.D.

“It’s been a good season,” Mooney said. “We know it’s been a few years since we made a regional and our guys are excited about it.”

The 36-11 Junior Jays captured the National Division of the Legion state tournament, defeating spring champion Millard West (Wolfe Electric) in the final. Five Points Bank then fell to the 52s Patriots (Millard South) 4-3 on Saturday in the Class A championship game.

“I don’t think that loss is any sort of motivation for us,” Mooney said. “We’ve put it behind us and are looking ahead.”

Five Points Bank last made a regional in 2017 and finished that season as the national runner-up to a team from Las Vegas. The 1939 Omaha McDevitts from Prep remain the only Nebraska team ever to win the Legion World Series.

Mooney said this season has been special for several reasons, including the fact he’s gotten a final chance to coach his son, Parker. He graduated in May and will attend Augustana in the fall, where he also will play baseball.

“I like to think he’s pretty excited, getting a chance to play for his dad a little longer,” Pat said. “He’s our youngest so it’s going to be pretty strange around the house without him.”

Parker Mooney is one of four starters batting over .400. Coby Hatcher leads the way at .466, followed by Jack Thiele (.455), Mooney (.453) and Jack Stessman (.420).

Thiele, the Junior Jays’ first baseman, leads the team in hits with 61 and RBIs with 42. Grant Sommers has driven in 40 runs and leads Five Points Bank in homers with five.

Louis Schneckenberger leads the team in pitching wins with six while five others – Grant Wagner, Thomas Leiden, Robert O’Malley, Ryan Bauer and Jamison Harris – each have five wins.

Wagner has the lowest ERA at 1.32 while O’Malley, a Creighton signee, leads the Junior Jays in strikeouts with 58.

Though it’s been five years since the team from Prep went to a regional, Mooney is confident his squad will be ready.

“We have 11 seniors, so they know the drill,” the coach said. “We need to do the little things that win games and take advantage of the other teams’ mistakes.”

Five Points Bank also has a working knowledge of several squads in the eight-team regional.

“Five of the eight were at our tournament this summer,” Mooney said. “I think that helps but we mostly need to concentrate on taking care of our own business.”

The quality of competition at the regional is evident by the presence of North Dakota state champion West Fargo and Minnesota champ St. Michael-Albertville. Those were the top two finishers this summer at the 96-team Gopher Classic, won by West Fargo.

“It’s going to be really competitive, to say the least,” Mooney said.

The Junior Jays will join the 52s Patriots as the Nebraska representatives at the regional. Five Points Bank will open tourney play Wednesday at noon against Minnesota state runner-up Mankato.

The Nebraska teams wouldn’t play each other until Friday at the earliest in the double-elimination event.

“Rapid City has a great complex and they draw huge crowds, so our guys are amped up,” Mooney said. “It feels good to be going back to a regional.”

The Central Plains schedule -- Wednesday: 52s Patriots vs. Moville (Iowa), 9:30 a.m.; Mankato (Minnesota) vs. Five Points Bank, noon; West Fargo (North Dakota) vs. Sioux Falls (South Dakota), 3:30 p.m.; St. Michael-Albertville (Minnesota) vs. Rapid City (South Dakota), 6:15. Thursday: Losers bracket games at 9:30 a.m. and noon; winners bracket games at 3:30 p.m. and 6. Friday: Losers bracket games at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; winners bracket game at 6. Saturday: Games at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday: Championship, 11 a.m. (another game to follow, if needed).

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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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