It’s never easy to put up a stat line of six innings pitched, two runs allowed on five hits with five strikeouts and lose, but for Archbishop Bergan starter Dillon Dix, it became a reality Tuesday night at Haymarket Park.
Dix was dynamic on the mound for the Knights but he met his match in Millard West starter Preston Menicucci. The Wildcats gave Menicucci a two-run lead in the first and he took them the rest of the way as he earned the win behind seven shutout innings of four-hit baseball.
Meniccui completely controlled the game, which he had to against the stellar Dix, in the Wildcats' 2-0 victory in the winner’s bracket of the Class A state baseball tournament.
“My offspeed was there today fortunately and then my defense was just making plays behind me,” Menicucci said. “They always have my back.”
The Wildcat defense played a strong game without any errors behind Menicucci, but it was his ability to control the strike zone and challenge hitters that truly made the difference against the Knights. He racked up six walks but always found a way to pitch out of it without allowing a Bergan rally to truly form.
The Knights only advanced one runner to third base and Menicucci got a strike out to end the threat in the second inning and never looked back.
“To me, (Menicucci) was pretty much dominant tonight,” Millard West coach Steve Frey said. “He did a great job of just pounding the zone and basically keeping our defense on its toes. I thought he did a great job tonight.”
Menicucci got all the run support he needed in the bottom of the first when Texas A&M recruit Max Anderson connected on his state-leading ninth home run of the season. Anderson’s shot didn’t clear the fence in center field, but the junior raced around the bases and just beat the throw home to give the Wildcats a two-run lead early on.
“(Anderson’s home run) was great, it was nice to know I was going to pitch with a lead,” Menicucci said.
The win sets up a matchup with crosstown rival Millard South in the Class A winner’s bracket final. The teams split the regular season 1-1 and are very familiar with each other’s style of play after year’s of seeing each other multiple times.
The teams will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday with Haymarket Park hosting.
Archbishop Bergan will face Kearney in an elimination game at 4 p.m.