The defending American Legion Class A state champion continues to pound its way through the Area 2 tournament.
PI Midwest (Omaha Creighton Prep) rolled past DJ's Dugout (Bellevue West) 17-5 in a winners bracket game Sunday at Legion Field in Elkhorn. Coach Pat Mooney's squad improved to 41-9 and moved within one victory of returning to the state tournament.
“We had a lot of runners on base today,” Mooney said. “We definitely took advantage of our opportunities.”
It was the third consecutive lopsided Area tournament win for PI Midwest, which posted a 20-1 victory against Benson Post 112 Friday and a 16-2 win over Elkhorn South Post 211 Saturday.
The team is making amends for the spring varsity season when Prep missed state for just the second time since 1992.
“That's served as a big motivation for us,” left fielder Kirk Kudlacz said. “It seemed like we had some tensions in the spring but this summer it's been smooth sailing.”
Kudlacz did his part Sunday, driving in four runs. He tripled home a run in the fifth, doubled home a pair in the sixth and brought home a run in the eighth after being hit by a pitch.
DJ's Dugout trailed 2-0 early but rallied to score four in the fourth to take a short-lived lead. Cole Patterson, Brad Brazeal, Cale Svehla and Colton Sidener each had RBIs before PI Midwest tied the game in the fifth and went ahead for good with a three-run sixth.
Mooney's squad put the game away with a seven-run seventh, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by Mike Huelskamp. He was the only PI Midwest player without a hit until that point, but his shot up the alley in right-center field was the decisive late-inning blow.
Three more runs came home in the eighth with the help of two walks and two hit batsmen. DJ's Dugout used seven pitchers while PI Midwest used three — starter Adam Wilson and relievers McLaine Jonas and Alex Armendariz.
Wilson went six innings to pick up the victory. He scattered seven hits before giving way to Jonas, who struck out the side in the seventh before Armendariz mopped up in the eighth.
“Adam did OK in pretty hot conditions,” Mooney said. “They foul off a lot of pitches and made him work hard out there.”
Alex Allbery had three hits for the winners and Mike Emodi scored four runs, including PI Midwest's first on a long homer to left-center field leading off the second inning.
PI Midwest moves on to the championship game Tuesday at 5 p.m. If Mooney's squad would suffer its first loss in the double-elimination tournament, a second game would follow.
“We're hoping to be the champions,” the coach said. “That would mean staying here in town for the state tourney.”
The 16-team state tournament, which runs from Saturday through July 31, will be split between Millard West and Sherman Field in Lincoln.
PI Midwest ............................ 020 023 73—17 15 3
DJ's Dugout ............................ 000 401 00— 5 8 1
W: Wilson. L: Kriete. 2B: PIM, Petrich, Kudlacz, Huelskamp, Alex Allbery. 3B: PIM, Kudlacz. HR: PIM, Emodi.