PAPILLION — Cooper Prososki has a big college decision to make within the next few weeks.

Play basketball? Or baseball?

Maybe Tuesday night's performance against Hastings will help with the decision.

The Bennington senior pieced together a dominating performance on the mound, striking out 11 in 6 2/3 innings in leading the No. 2 Badgers to a 4-1 win against the No. 5 Tigers in the Class B state baseball tournament at Werner Park.

If Prososki picks basketball, he'll likely go to Hastings College, he says. If he picks baseball, he'll find a landing spot at a junior college.

"It's tough because whatever sport I'm playing, I'm like, 'I want to do that,'" Prososki said. "I got to figure that out."

But first, Prososki and his Bennington teammates are making a little school history. Prior to the postseason, the Bennington program had zero state tournament wins in its 10 years of existence.

The Badgers have picked up three in four days. Tuesday's win clinched a spot in Thursday's championship final.

The Badgers (18-5) are getting a combination of strong pitching and big hits in the tournament. After Wyatt Knutson-Smith shut down Norris on Monday, Prososki followed with his own gem.

Prososki gave up a double to begin the bottom of the second, then retired 12 of the next 14 batters. His fastball and curveball were sharp, and his changeup got going, too. The left-hander allowed only two hits.

"Cooper doesn't get rattled too easily," Bennington coach Scott Heese said. "He's been through a lot from being a three-sport athlete. He's been involved in every situation you can come up with, so he's seen it all, he's been there firsthand. It takes a whole lot to mess with him."

The only thing that stopped Prososki was the 110-pitch count. He reached that mark in the seventh inning. His final pitch resulted in a swing and miss for a strikeout.

"For me, it was just about finding a rhythm and going with it," Prososki said. "I kind of found my changeup a little bit and that helped me find my other pitches. I stuck with it and tried to keep it going.

"Settling into the game and relaxing and just throwing. That's all it was for me."

Heese also credited pitching coach Mike Krambeck for his pitching calls and scouting reports.

The Badger offense gave Prososki plenty of help, the biggest lift being a four-run third inning.

The inning included RBI hits from Prososki, Colton Smith and Cody Flynn. Designated hitter Anthony Comfort punctuated the inning with an RBI double — the first of his three hits against the Tigers — to the left-center gap.

Bennington finished with 12 hits, including nine through the first three innings. The Badgers had 13 hits against Norris.

"I thought they swung it well from the get-go, even though their first two innings they didn't necessarily score," Hastings coach Blake Marquardt said. "We played good defense those first two innings and then those hard hits were finally starting to see gaps in the field."

Bennington will play No. 1 and fellow Eastern Midlands Conference member Waverly at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Werner Park. Win or lose, the Badgers are in the championship round.

Hastings (20-7) will play Norris at 7 p.m. in an elimination game at Werner.

Marquardt said the Tigers will throw Kentucky recruit Sam Wibbels.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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