WAVERLY — The wind cut across Lawson Park in an assertive matter on Wednesday afternoon.
There was some force behind Waverly’s bats and Jonah Reiser’s curveball, too.
Reiser shut down a dangerous Titan lineup, striking out nine over 5.2 innings in leading the Class B No. 4 Vikings to an 11-1, six-inning win against No. 6 Norris in the final of the Eastern Midlands Conference baseball tournament.
Four Waverly hitters had multiple hits, including leadoff hitter Rhett Jordon, who finished with three.
“This is huge,” Reiser said of the conference tournament crown. “Last year we were close, we got second and lost to Elkhorn, so it was really good to shut the door this year.”
Waverly (9-3) had to hold off Blair and Bennington to reach the tournament final. The Vikings never took their foot off the gas Wednesday, sending seven batters to the plate in the first inning, seven in the second, six in the fourth and eight in the sixth.
“A day like today is a tough day to pitch, a tough day to hit, and we just talked about approach and not changing who we are,” Waverly coach Kyle Parker said. “Take the same approach, hit the ball, take what they’re giving us and do the best you can.”
The wind, blowing at around 35 mph, played some tricks, keeping outfielders on their toes and blowing some balls well out of play.
It had little effect on Reiser’s curveball.
“I was just kind of feeling it today, and with the wind not bringing it down, I could throw it for strikes,” said Reiser, who now owns a 0.97 earned-run average. “I lost control of it a few times, but it was feeling just as good as my fastball.”
Reiser limited Norris (6-4) — a team that scored a combined 24 runs against Elkhorn and Gretna in the first two rounds of the tournament — to two hits. He threw a lot of strikes and was able to throw his curve at any point in the count.
Parker called it “typical Jonah.”
“He’s had games where it’s (the curveball) even better,” Parker added. “He just trusts it to throw it whenever and in any count, and he just believes in what he’s doing. He came in with a great curveball and he’s really developed his change-up, too. And his change-up might be better than his curve.”
Despite the loss, Norris will look to build off a nice tournament run. The Titans entered the tournament as the fifth seed before beating No. 2-rated Elkhorn and Class A Gretna. They have upcoming games against Class A No. 5 Elkhorn South and No. 7 Omaha Westside.
"I think there's a lot of positives to be taken out (the tournament)," Norris coach Sean Bartholomew said. "We had a couple of pitchers who really threw it well the last couple of days. We've just got to stay locked in and compete in every game and not get complacent."