One day after teammate Connor Miller struck out 13 in a two-hit shutout, Millard West pitcher Nate Griep was even better.
The Kansas State recruit allowed one hit and struck out 14 Friday night to lead the top-ranked Wildcats to a 9-0 win against Omaha Westside in a semifinal of the Millard West Invitational. That victory followed the Wildcats’ 4-0 win against Elkhorn in a first-round game Thursday.
The win lifts Millard West (15-0) into Saturday’s 6 p.m. final against Lincoln Southwest — a 4-1 winner over Lincoln East in the other semifinal.
Griep struck out the side in the second, fourth and fifth innings. The only hit he allowed came when Malcolm Willett singled to center to lead off the second.
“His curveball was really dropping tonight,” Wildcats coach Frank Ryan said. “When it moves like that, he’s really tough to hit.”
Griep (3-0) struck out eight of the nine Westside starters at least once. The only player he was unable to fan was Michael Finocchiaro, who grounded out and walked in his two plate appearances.
“I really felt good out there,” Griep said. “I know everybody was really fired up for this game.”
To make the night even more special, Griep drove in four runs with a two-run single in the second inning and a two-run homer in the sixth. His booming home run easily cleared the left-field fence and bounced off Q Street.
“I’ve seen that happen before but that was the first time I’ve been able to reach the street like that,” he said. “It kind of surprised me.”
Ryan said his team was eager to reach the final after losing in the semifinal last year to Lincoln Southeast.
“It’s not much fun when you’re not playing for the championship of your own tournament,” he said. “Now we’ll get that chance.”
It was a forgettable night for fifth-ranked Westside, which mustered the one hit and committed five errors. The Warriors, who had won nine of 10, were hoping to avenge a season-opening, 7-5 home loss against Millard West.
The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the first inning against freshman pitcher Matt Waldron and never looked back. Ryan Furne delivered a two-run single after the inning had been kept alive by a pair of throwing errors.
Millard West made it 6-0 in the second on Griep’s two-run single, a run-scoring double by Miller and an RBI single by Ryan Merrill. The Wildcats added one in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Dylan Steyer and two more in the sixth on Griep’s blast to left.
Junior Nick Hargis pitched the seventh for Millard West, striking out Finocchiaro to end the game.
“We jumped on them early and Nate did the rest,” Ryan said. “It was a good win.”
Omaha Westside (10-4) ........... 000 000 0—0 1 5
At Millard West (15-0) ............ 240 012 x—9 10 1
W: Griep. L: Waldron. 2B: MW, Miller, Parks, Furne. HR: Griep.
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