LINCOLN — Millard West continued its dominating roll at the Class A state baseball tournament Thursday by posting its fourth straight shutout victory.

The Wildcats eliminated three-time defending state champion Omaha Creighton Prep 5-0 at Haymarket Park behind the five-hit pitching performance of Keyton Barnes. Millard West advances to the championship game Friday in quest of its first state title after seven runner-up finishes since 2000.

“We were able to get a jump on them early,” Millard West coach Steve Frey said. “Another guy threw a big game for us.”

Barnes struck out four and was the recipient of four early runs. Millard West, which has outscored its four tourney foes 19-0, scored one run in the first and three in the second to take charge.

“A lot of my pitches were working for me,” Barnes said. “And as always, my teammates had my back on defense.”

Barnes wiggled out of trouble in the first when the Junior Jays put runners at first and second with one out. He retired the side by getting the next two batters to pop out.

“Getting out of that inning was a huge confidence boost,” Barnes said. “That was really big.”

Millard West went ahead in the bottom of the first when Kyan Lodice drew a first-inning walk off Prep starter C.J. Wolfe and eventually scored on an RBI single by Ryan David.

The Wildcats added three runs in the second on four hits, but the key play was an infield throwing error. That allowed two runs to score, and a third came home on an RBI double by Eric Standish.

Millard West maintained its shutout with strong defense, especially up the middle. Shortstop Max Anderson made several plays, center fielder Garrett Kennedy had two diving grabs and catcher Jackson Meier threw out a runner trying to steal.

“Give them a lot of credit,” Prep coach Pat Mooney said. “Their pitcher kept us off balance and they made every play in the field.”

The Junior Jays had an opportunity in the sixth when Graham Lorenz and Eric Allbery led off with bunt singles. But Nico Sall struck out, Lorenz was caught stealing and Luke Krzemien grounded out.

After Millard West added a run in the bottom of the inning, Prep put two runners on base in the seventh. But Barnes finished off the victory with a fly out and a strikeout, lifting the Wildcats into the final.

“We got as far as we could,” Mooney said. “We had a lot of injuries this year, so I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished.”

The Junior Jays’ elimination means there will be a Class A state champion not named Prep or Omaha Westside for the first time since Papillion-La Vista South won in 2011. Prep has won four titles since then, and the Warriors have won three.

Barnes said he hopes the next team to win that championship is Millard West.

“We want it so bad,” he said. “For the team and for our school.”

Om. Creighton Prep (20-12)..........000 000 0—0 5 2

Millard West (27-5)......................130 001 x—5 7 1

W: Barnes. L: Wolfe. 2B: Standish, Gomes.

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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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