"Caleb came out and threw a great game," coach Steve Frey said. "I thought for sure he wasn't going to be able to throw but there were no broken bones and the swelling went down."
The eighth-seeded Islanders had forced a second game against Millard West with a 7-5 victory earlier in the day. That was the first loss for the Wildcats in the double-elimination tournament.
Grand Island rode that momentum into the second game, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the first. The Wildcats caught a break in the bottom of the inning after the Islanders appeared to turn an inning-ending double play.
The umpires ruled interference as a runner tried to return to second base, keeping the inning alive. A double steal scored Nick Venteicher and Nixon Snyder drove home another run with a ground-rule double.
"It's one of those plays you don't see happen often," Frey said. "We hadn't seen it all year and of course we see it in a big game."
Millard West scored three insurance runs in the fifth. Tanner Wilbeck and Caden Driessen had RBIs and a third run scored on a balk.
Joey Hartnett came on in the sixth and Venteicher finished up, working out of a bases-loaded jam.
He struck out the side in the seventh to lift Millard West back into the title game for the fourth straight season.
Now the Wildcats will be able to show their stuff on Nebraska Public Media television Friday night.
"That's exciting," Frey said. "To have them be seen on the statewide stage is really great."
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.