PI Midwest would just as soon forget its first game Wednesday night at the American Legion Class A state baseball tournament.
But pitcher McLaine Jonas helped make its second game one to remember.
Jonas went the distance and struck out nine to lead the team from Omaha Creighton Prep to a 4-3 win over T. Hurt Construction (Omaha Burke) in the National Division final at Millard West. The victory came after coach Scott Hodges' squad forced that second game by pounding PI Midwest 13-2, handing the squad from Prep its first tournament loss.
“Our guy did a great job of pitching tonight,” PI Midwest coach Pat Mooney said. “They swing the bats so well and are such a senior-dominated team, they're really tough to beat.”
The win qualified PI Midwest (47-10) for a regional berth, its third in a row. PI Midwest went all the way to the Legion World Series last year, finishing fourth nationally.
It also was redemption from a disappointing spring season in which Prep failed to reach the state tournament.
“We played much better this summer,” Jonas said. “We got in a groove and we just kept it going.”
PI Midwest will host the Class A state tournament final Saturday night and will play the winner of the American Division tourney being played in Lincoln. That champion will be decided Thursday between Kearney Runza, KB Building Services (Omaha Westside) and Union Bank (Lincoln Pius X).
Bouncing back from its lopsided loss, PI Midwest struck for two runs in the top of the first against T. Hurt Construction starter Nick McCulloch. Adam Wilson delivered the big blow with a two-run double to right-center field.
The team from Burke got one run back in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring grounder by Dylan Yost. The run was set up by two infield errors, PI Midwest's only miscues of the game.
T. Hurt Construction tied it in the third on an RBI groundout by Jack Dresslar. Hodges' squad then took its only lead in the fourth when Zach Pullen singled to right, scoring Yost.
PI Midwest went back ahead in the fifth, scoring twice on a sacrifice fly by Zach Garrett and an infield throwing error. The game then settled into a pitching duel between Jonas and T. Hurt Construction's Ryan Cate, who came on in relief in the fifth.
Cate worked around a leadoff double by Mike Huelskamp in the sixth and a two-out double by Jason Allbery in the seventh. Hodges' squad had two runners on base in the sixth and a runner at second in the eighth but came up empty.
After Cate worked a 1-2-3 ninth, Jonas finished off the victory. He allowed one walk but struck out the side to secure PI Midwest's division title.
“That was a real battle,” Mooney said. “We really had to work for it.”
PI Midwest ............................ 200 020 000—4 7 2
T. Hurt Construction ............................ 101 100 000—3 6 1
W: Jonas. L: McCulloch.
2B: PIM, Wilson, Allen, A. Allbery, Hueslkamp, J. Allbery.
T. Hurt Construction 13, PI Midwest 2
T. Hurt Construction remained alive in the first game as Pullen picked up the win.
The squad from Omaha Burke scored eight runs in the fifth inning, and the game ended in the seventh because of the 10-run mercy rule.
PI Midwest ............................ 000 001 1— 2 9 1
T. Hurt Construction ............................ 003 280 x—13 10 1
W: Pullen. L: O'Doherty.
2B: PIM, Huelskamp; TH, Dresslar, Trevarrow.