Ryan David said he nearly blew a gasket when he watched Millard West score its first run, but it was David who provided the biggest explosion a little later.
David slapped a single to left field in the top of the 11th inning to score Kyan Lodice and lift the Wildcats to the school's first Class A baseball championship with a 2-1 victory over Millard South on Friday at Sherman Field. The Wildcats had finished as state runners-up seven times since 2000.
No. 2 Millard West took a 1-0 lead when Garrett Kennedy doubled and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk by Tristan Gomes in the top of the ninth inning, but Millard South came right back. The Patriots scored the only run that Millard West surrendered in the entire state tournament. Noah Griese doubled and came home on a single by Kutty George to keep No. 6 Millard South's chances alive. The Patriots needed to beat Millard West to force a second title game in the double-elimination tournament.
Lodice led off the 11th with a walk and then beat a pickoff throw to make it to second. With two outs, David slapped the ball between third and short for the game-winner.
"That was huge when Tristan got that walk. I was jumping up and down and thought I blew a blood vessel in my head," said David, a senior first baseman. "I don't remember the count on my hit. I waited for that pitch, I saw it and had to get a barrel on the ball."
David got the first out of the bottom of the 11th on a wind-blown foul pop-up when he had to dodge the runner. Cohen Weaklend caught a line drive for the next out and then ranged into foul territory to snare the final out.
Millard West starting pitcher Caleb Riedel got into a jam in the first inning when Millard South loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single by Tre Mungin. Riedel got a strikeout before Gomes charged a bunt up the third-base line and flipped it to catcher Jackson Meier for the force at home.
"Millard South has done that plenty of times, so I kind of just expected it," said Gomes. "When I saw it, I knew I had to start running. Put the ball in my glove, flipped it up and it worked. Getting out of that first inning was definitely a confidence-booster, for not just Caleb, but for the team."
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Riedel escaped from the jam with another strikeout. He finished with 10 strikeouts and allowed just three hits in eight innings.
"The first three guys, I didn't have much control," said Riedel, "so I was just thinking that I have to settle down and get the ball back in the zone and let my defense make some plays. That was an amazing play by Tristan. I was so glad when he glove-flipped that and got the out. Saved the run and probably a pretty big inning."
Millard South coach Greg Geary agreed.
"Not scoring in the first inning hurt a little," said Geary. "Give them credit. Their kids settled down after that and did a good job. Riedel and Jayden (Payne) were going blow-for-blow on the mound."
Payne also went eight innings, giving up just three hits.
More than 600 fans crowded into Sherman for the game, providing an electric atmosphere despite the brief rain shower that had fans scrambling but didn't halt the game.
"It was a great atmosphere," said Millard West coach Steve Frey. "There were so many fans for both teams and it was so loud."