VALLEY — Omaha Roncalli wrecked any chance Wayne had at defending its Class B American Legion Juniors state baseball championship.
Roncalli got a two-run single in the first inning and scored a five-run third for enough run support to eliminate Wayne 8-4 in the first game of the final day at the Class B, Area 3 tournament at Chris Frank Field here.
“They play good baseball. You've got to play a perfect game, as best as you can, to beat those guys,” Wayne coach Adam Hoffman said. “Unfortunately, this was their day.”
Top-seeded Bennington faced Roncalli in a winner-take-all game that followed Wayne's contest.
“We feel like we can compete with anybody, and I think it showed down here at districts,” Hoffman said. “It was a tough district, and we knew that coming in.”
After Roncalli was one out away from ending the game early via the mercy rule, Wayne rallied to the point of having the potential game-tying run in the on-deck circle thanks to a furious seventh inning.
That’s when Wayne got going against Jason Willis, the fourth Roncalli pitcher of the game. After a Tyrus Eischeid double, Blake Bartos and Jacob Kneifl had back-to-back RBI singles before a one-out RBI single by Gunnar Jorgensen put Wayne within 8-4 with two runners in scoring position and the potential game-tying run on deck.
But the threat was thwarted after a flyout and strikeout.
“Our guys kept battling. I'm proud of our guys for battling to stay in it. They stayed with it,” Hoffman said. “If we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging, and I felt like we did that. We came back there and gave ourselves a chance. We stayed with it, and that's all you can ask out of our kids.”
Had it not been for Roncalli's production with two outs, the game may well have been decided differently.
It appeared that Wayne starting pitcher Bartos was going to escape a rocky first inning that included a leadoff walk and a double. Instead, Breckin Silvain started the game’s scoring with a two-run single.
Another big blow came two innings later when the first five batters scored in the third. Roncalli loaded the bases without a hit thanks to two hit batters around a walk, and the first two runs came across on a RBI single and bases-loaded walk.
Once again, two outs was the enemy as Jason Willis pounded a two-run single into left-center before an error put another run on the board for Roncalli.
“Anytime you get a two-out hit against a team, that's huge because that's just deflation,” Hoffman said. “You're thinking, as a defense, (if) you get one more out, you're out of the inning, and you're ready to hit. They came up with some good hits.”
Roncalli starter Garrett Vosika did not face the same difficulty, throwing three perfect innings before giving way to the relief corps. Nolan Gorczyca and Ty Poore also pitched for the Pride.
Bartos took the loss, allowing seven runs on four hits and three walks in two-plus innings. Reid Korth pitched five innings of three-hit relief, striking out five.
“Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the guys who got the hits,” Hoffman said. “Our pitchers made some good pitches, but they made some good swings, and that's just the name of the game. There's nothing you can do about it.”
Both teams scored once in the fifth inning. Roncalli took an 8-0 lead when it scored its second unearned run of the game.
Wayne followed when Max Miller scored from second on a Jacob Kneifl single, which was the team's second hit of the game, to keep the contest going. Bartos and Jacob Kneifl both led the offense with 2 for 4 outings at the plate, and Kneifl had two RBIs.
Class B, Area 3 tournament
Omaha Roncalli 205 010 0 — 8 8 1
Wayne 000 010 3 — 4 6 2
WP: Garrett Vosika. LP: Blake Bartos. 2B: (OR) Sam Wiese; (W) Tyrus Eischeid. SB: (OR) Wiese, Vosika, Michael Charles; (W) Bartos, Gunnar Jorgensen.