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State Legion baseball: Six-run inning, strong starting pitching helps Jays rally past JC Brager
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STATE LEGION BASEBALL

State Legion baseball: Six-run inning, strong starting pitching helps Jays rally past JC Brager

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OMAHA — A seventh-inning rally and a strong effort by senior pitcher Will Volenec led to victory Sunday for Creighton Prep.

Prep scored six runs in the final inning to rally past JC Brager (Lincoln Southeast) 8-5 in the American Division of the Class A American Legion state tournament at Omaha Westside. The victory keeps the Junior Jays in the winners' bracket of the double-elimination event.

"We caught some breaks in the seventh," Prep coach Pat Mooney said. "We executed a couple of things and were able to score some crucial runs."

Volenec survived a shaky first to last 6 2/3 innings in the heat to earn the win. When he reached his 105-pitch limit, reliever Jack Thiele came on to get the final out.

"Will is a horse," Mooney said. "He wasn't sharp in that first inning, but he hung in there and did a nice job."

Volenec surrendered three first-inning runs to the Knights, who tacked on two more in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead. But after the Junior Jays' leadoff batter was retired in the seventh, Prep worked its comeback magic.

The Junior Jays scored six on just two hits. They took advantage of three walks and two infield errors before Sam Ryberg's two-run single and Coby Hatcher's two-run sacrifice bunt.

"We played six really good innings and one bad one," JC Brager coach Montana Jones said. "Against a good team like Prep, you've got to make the plays."

Then it was up to Volenec to close it out. He struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh before reaching his limit.

"I didn't have my stuff early in the game," Volenec said. "But I thought to myself that this could be the last game I pitch, so I needed to get it together."

The Knights drew a pair of two-out walks but Thiele got Connor Pfundt to fly out to right fielder Andrew Butler to end the game.

American Legion baseball scores, 7/25

Prep (32-14) advances to a winners bracket game at 7 p.m. Monday. JC Brager (30-13) will play an elimination game at 1 p.m. against Bellevue West.

Gretna 4, Papillion-La Vista South 2: Charles Thomas pitched six strong innings as the Dragons remained in the winners bracket.

He scattered 10 hits — all singles — while striking out two. He gave way to reliever Rusty Workman, who worked a 1-2-3 seventh.

"'Chuck T' has been good for us all season," coach Bryan O'Flynn said. "He mixed it up and threw a lot of strikes."

Bellevue West 9, Omaha Westside 7: Bellevue West led 9-0 entering the final inning and held on, moving its record to 50-3 this summer after Saturday's loss to Gretna. Dane Toman had a no-hitter entering the final inning and struck out seven to pick up the win.

The host Warriors sent 12 to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and brought the winning run to the plate before the rally fell short. The loss ended the season for Westside.

Omaha Burke 9, Hastings 3: A five-run sixth inning helped pave the way to victory for the Bulldogs, who staved off elimination. Owen Kelley picked up the victory for Burke, which led 9-0 before Hastings scored three in the seventh.

The loss eliminated the Hastings, but it will still be the host team for the Mid South Regional that begins Aug. 4.

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