Patterson: Creighton Prep, Omaha Roncalli show resiliency in claiming state baseball titles

Omaha Roncalli dogpiles on Logan McGill after his walk-off hit. The Class B Crimson Pride won their second title and first since 1981.

This baseball season will be remembered for many things — the nasty weather, for one — but most important for the championships won by Omaha Creighton Prep and Omaha Roncalli.

The Junior Jays captured their third straight Class A title and state-leading 12th overall.

The Class B Crimson Pride won their second title and first since 1981.

The preseason No. 1 Junior Jays were coming off two championship seasons. With 10 seniors on the roster, another title definitely was in their sights.

An early setback against Grand Island and a no-hit loss to Lincoln Southeast showed Prep was not invincible, but the team was definitely resilient. The Junior Jays bounced back to win the Metro Conference tournament, rolling past Millard West in the final.

Two weeks later, another team proved Prep could be beaten. Lincoln Southwest went on the road to post an 11-1 win on the Junior Jays’ home field.

A late-season loss to Omaha Westside seemed to refocus Prep, which did not allow a run in two district tournament games. The Junior Jays headed to state seeking their third straight Class A title, a feat accomplished by Lincoln Southeast (1960-62), Ralston (1986-88) and Omaha Westside (2013-15).

Only Omaha Northwest (1982-85) has won four Class A titles in a row.

That’s what Prep will be shooting for next season after an impressive performance at state. The Junior Jays went 4-1 in the tournament, capping that run with a 7-2 victory over Millard South at Werner Park.

The season had a different look for Roncalli.

The weather wreaked havoc with the Crimson Pride’s schedule, as the team had 10 games postponed or canceled over the first month of the season.

But a 4-2 victory over defending champion Omaha Skutt proved Roncalli was indeed one of the top teams — when it got a chance to prove it. The Crimson Pride went on to capture the River Cities Conference tournament, once again defeating the SkyHawks 4-2 in the final.

District wins over Crete and Platteview sent Roncalli to state for the first time since 2014, and this team made the most of the opportunity. The Crimson Pride won three close games and avenged their only tourney loss against Norris by defeating the Titans 5-4 in the final.

The way Roncalli won that championship — a two-run walkoff single by Logan McGill — only added to the drama.

Both teams earned their victory dogpiles, and it was a fitting end to a great baseball season.

Finishing second

A quick word about Millard South and Norris, the teams that finished as the runners-up.

The state tournament schedule is a grueling one, and some teams — this year, they were the Patriots and the Titans — play six games in six days.

Millard South pitched ace Kyle Perry in the semifinal Thursday morning to defeat Omaha Burke. The Patriots got a strong effort from Josh Renken in the final — he held Prep to one run over five innings — but the Junior Jays used a six-run sixth to claim the title.

Norris also turned to its ace, Zach Argo, to defeat Hastings in the Class B semifinal Thursday morning. The Titans got a strong effort in the final from Cullen Papenhagen — making his first start of the season — but came up just short against Roncalli and its ace Creighton Silvain.

The Patriots have finished as the runners-up seven times since their last title in 1980.

The Titans suffered their second consecutive crushing defeat in the final, losing last year to Skutt 6-3 in 12 innings.

It’s not easy finishing second, but these two programs definitely deserve recognition for the seasons they had.

All-Nebraska

Coaches are reminded that All-Nebraska ballots need to be returned by Sunday. They should be emailed to mike.patterson@owh.com.

Final statistics — if coaches aren’t updating their stats on the MaxPreps website — also should be emailed by Sunday.

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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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