Wayne advances to B-5 area finals


When two teams hook up in a great pitcher’s battle, it usually comes down to a key mistake that determines the outcome.
O’Neill took advantage of some early mistakes to break a scoreless tie, but Wayne returned the favor and got some key two-out singles to defeat the O’Neill Irish 5-3 and advance to the finals of the Class B, Area 5 tournament Sunday evening at Hank Overin Field.
Coach Jeff Zeiss said he was proud of the way his team hung in there after a two-out, two-run error broke the scoreless tie.
“When we were down 2-0, we talked about how it takes 21 outs (to win), and I was proud of the way the kids bounced back,” he said. “It was a tough play for Tyler on that slow roller, and I thought if he came up with it they’d only get one, but we were able to come right back.”
Wayne had a golden opportunity in the first when Tyler Lutt looped a double down the right field line. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, but was put out at home after trying to score on a second wild pitch by O’Neill pitcher Justin Appleby. O’Neill also had runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings, but Adam Bentjen pitched out of both opportunities.
The Irish finally broke through in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with two outs. A tough grounder to Lutt skipped under his glove allowing Appleby and Wyatt Liewer to score the first two runs of the game.
Wayne (27-3) got both runs back in the bottom of the fifth. Mason Lee was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a wild pickoff attempt. On the next pitch, Beau Bowers lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Lee with Wayne’s first run. Edgar Ficke-Anderson walked and advanced two bases on wild pitches, and after a two-out walk by Lutt, left-handed hitter Zane Jackson went the other way with a bloop single to tie the game at 2-2.
After retiring the side in the top of the sixth, Wayne took advantage of two O’Neill mistakes to take the lead. Tucker Nichols reached on an error, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. The Irish moved the infield in, but Lee bounced a grounder over the third baseman’s glove to score Nichols with the go-ahead run. Lee came home on a single by Brennan O’Reilly, and Ficke-Anderson followed him home on an opposite-field single by Lutt.
O’Neill (23-3) loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the seventh, but Bentjen snared a line drive by Shayne Campbell and doubled off Alexander Thramer at first, then loaded the bases before Payten Gamble got the final out for the save.
“Both pitchers threw the ball well and it was a great ball game,” Zeiss said. “We knew it would be a tough one, and it’s good to get the win and get some rest for Tuesday.”
Tuesday’s finals could be a reversal of last year’s area final, when Wayne traveled to O’Neill and won two games on the road to qualify for state. Zeiss said he hopes his team understands what needs to be done to avoid their team suffering a similar fate to the one O’Neill experienced last year.
“We have the same situation they were in last year, so we have to stay focused,” Zeiss said. “All we’ve got to do is win one game and we need to be focused and ready to play Tuesday. It’s kind of like deja vu from last year, and it scares me.”
Friday's Results
Ponca 8, Pierce 4
O'Neill 5, Columbus Lakeview 2
Saturday's Results
Lakeview 12, Pierce 2 (Pierce eliminated)
Wayne 4, Ponca 0
Sunday's Games
Lakeview 9, Ponca 4 (Ponca eliminated)
Wayne 5, O'Neill 3
Monday's Game
Lakeview vs. O'Neill, 7 p.m.
Tuesday's Game
Championship game, Wayne vs. Lakeview/O’Neill winner, 5 p.m. (Second game 30 minutes after if needed)


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