It was almost like deja vu in reverse for the Wayne Juniors.
Last year, Wayne had to travel to O’Neill and win two games on the road to earn a trip to state, and they were able to get the job done and earn a spot in the state tournament.
O’Neill tried to return the favor Tuesday and won the first game 8-2, forcing a second game that saw Wayne break a 2-2 tie with a key RBI single by Edgar Ficke-Anderson to earn a 3-2 win and claim their second straight Class B, Area 5 title in an exciting finale at Hank Overin Field.
Wayne (28-4) drew first blood in the first inning of the second gmae when Tyler Lutt walked and scored on Zane Jackson’s groundout to second. They added another run in the fourth when Tucker Nichols hit a shot down the left field line for an RBI single, scoring Justin Dean, who reached with a one-out single.
Tyler Lutt pitched well, but put two runners in scoring position in fifth before coach Jeff Zeiss brought Adam Bentjen on in relief. Bentjen gave up a two-out single to Alex Thramer to tie the game before getting out of the inning.
After leaving the potential tiebreaking run on third in the sixth, Wayne came through in the seventh when Nichols led off with a single, stole second and scored on Ficke-Anderson’s grounder to the left side that slipped through the drawn-in infield to bring Nichols home. Bentjen set O'Neill down in order, getting Liewer to strike out to end the game as the Wayne players met in a dogpile in the infield to celebrate the win.
In the first game, O’Neill broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning, two coming off a two-out double to left by Thramer that scored Wyatt Liewer and Justin Appelby.
O’Neill (26-4) added two more in the fourth inning after a throwing error brought home two runs, but got those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Jaixen, pinch-running for losing pitcher Zane Jackson, scored on an error with the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher went over his head. Justin Dean later came home on an infield single by Beau Bowers to cut the lead to 5-2.
O’Neil added another run in the fifth and put across two more in the sixth when Shayne Campbell lined a two-run single to right center, scoring Liewer and Thramer. Wayne got a run in the seventh when Brennan O’Reilly singled and scored on an Adam Bentjen single, but Wayne left the bases loaded to force the winner-take-all matchup.
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Ponca 8, Pierce 4
O'Neill 5, Columbus Lakeview 2
Lakeview 12, Pierce 2 (Pierce eliminated)
Wayne 4, Ponca 0
Lakeview 9, Ponca 4 (Ponca eliminated)
Wayne 5, O'Neill 3
O’Neill 3, Lakeview 2, 8 inn. (Lakeview eliminated)
O’Neill 8, Wayne 3
Wayne 3, O’Neill 2 (Wayne qualifies for state)