Millard South starter Jarrett Novak had some thoughts about Elkhorn South's 18-game win streak ahead of the teams’ matchup in the Class A state baseball winner’s bracket.
“I was thinking about (the win streak) on the way here today and thought, ‘Well, let’s just end that today,” he said. “Just give it your all and see what happens.”
Novak certainly gave it his all against the Storm, and the result was a dominant performance on the Haymarket Park mound Tuesday evening. He fired six-plus innings of one-run baseball, allowing three hits while striking out six, to lead the Patriots to a 7-1 victory and advance to the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday.
“I was able to locate my fastball for most of the game and I got some help on my changeup in the bullpen before the game with our pitching coach,” Novak said. “My curveball was a little off, but it still worked out.”
The Patriot offense did its part to keep Novak comfortable on the mound. Noah Griese picked up an RBI double in the first to give Millard South the early advantage, and two innings later, the Patriots added three runs on two bases-loaded walks and a passed ball.
The lone damage done to Novak was an Elkhorn South run in the fifth inning after he gave up the Storm’s second and third hits of the game. Millard South was already enjoying a six-run lead at that point, however, and Novak breezed over the Storm in the sixth.
“(Novak) has really grown as a pitcher over the last year-and-a-half,” Millard South coach Greg Geary said. “He’s turned into one of our studs. He’s shown so much toughness and moxie out there. Today he just filled up the zone and kept the hitters off-balance. I think it helped that we got him some early runs, but I can’t say enough about his performance.”
Novak got into some trouble with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, but Alex Locum, one of Millard South’s two seniors, came in and got three straight outs to send the Patriots to the next round of the winner’s bracket.
“These guys are all pulling the rope one through 22, and it really shows out there,” Geary said. “They believe in each other. There’s a lot of young guys out there, but they always come out ready to compete.”
Millard West advances to face the winner of the Millard West/Archbishop Bergan game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The loss sends Elkhorn South into the loser’s bracket, where the Storm will face Creighton Prep game at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Haymarket Park will host both games.