At this point in the season it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the characteristics of each team left in the Class A state baseball tournament in Papillion.
For No. 2 Millard South, it’s become very apparent that it will not blink in the face of adversity.
The Patriots rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday to avoid elimination and they found themselves in a very similar position on Wednesday at Werner Park. They trailed a talented team, Creighton Prep, early on and elimination was just two innings away.
But this Millard South team has been there before. The Patriots scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead and tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth to hand the Junior Jays their first loss of the tournament, 7-4.
“This team has 11 seniors, so they’re ready for high-pressure situations,” Millard South coach Greg Geary said. “They just battle. We got down yesterday and we were down again today but they just have found a way. It’s a really gritty bunch.”
It was production from some familiar bats that kept the Patriots alive. Nebraska recruit Kyle Perry singled to put two on in the fifth before Jake Gish ripped a triple that plated two and tied the game. Gish eventually scored on a Dylan Wagner single to give the Pats their first lead since the third inning.
In the sixth the damage was done by future Husker Drew Gilin, who ripped a two-run double to give South the commanding lead and keep the Patriots alive in the tournament.
The win sets up a matchup with No. 5 Omaha Burke, with the winner moving on to the championship game to face Prep. The Bulldogs beat Millard West 3-0 in Wednesday night’s elimination contest behind a Zach Munson gem.
The Bulldogs starter scattered two hits, struck out seven and walked five to earn the complete-game victory.
Millard South beat Burke 4-1 in the teams’ only meeting this season. The Bulldogs and Patriots' first pitch is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at Werner Park.
“We didn’t really care who we got, whether it was Burke or Millard West,” Geary added. “We’ve always taken it one game at a time, one day at a time, so it doesn’t really matter to this group.”
– Shea Carlson
MILLARD SOUTH 7, CREIGHTON PREP 4
W--Fritton. L--Gilin. 3B--MS, Gish. HR--CP, Richter.
OMAHA BURKE 3, MILLARD WEST 0