Upsets were the order of the day Thursday at the Don Kraft/Millard South Invitational.
The top three baseball teams in the Nebraska Top 10 — No. 1 Millard North, No. 2 Millard West and No. 3 Omaha Westside — all went down to defeat. Fourth-ranked Omaha Creighton Prep survived its first-round game, defeating two-time defending state champion Papillion-La Vista South 2-1.
Unranked Lincoln East sprung the first surprise, beating the Wildcats 4-0. After the Junior Jays defeated the Titans, Lincoln Northeast beat the top-ranked Mustangs 15-4 in five innings and host Millard South defeated the Warriors 5-1.
“I think there’s a lot of parity in baseball this season,’’ Millard South coach Greg Geary said. “It just depends on who’s hot on any given day.’’
The semifinals will be played at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday and the championship is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
In the final game of the night, the Patriots held Westside to three hits to boost their record to 17-7. Millard South starter Josh Willis struck out nine in 3-2/3 innings and Corey Andersen went the rest of the way.
The Warriors had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning without getting a hit. Malcolm Willett led off with a walk and scored all the way from first after a wild pickoff throw by Willis.
The Patriots moved ahead in the third inning, pushing across a pair of runs on two hits. Tyler Pavich brought home one run with a sacrifice fly and Danny Regan followed with a solo homer to right.
“Danny’s home run was a big hit for us,’’ Geary said. “That one gave us a nice boost.’’
Westside threatened in the fourth inning, loading the bases on three Willis walks. But Andersen came on to retire Willett on one pitch, getting the Warriors pitcher to ground into a fielder’s choice at third base.
“Corey deserves credit for getting us out of that one inning,’’ Willis said. “He did a great job in relief.’’
Millard South added to its lead in the fifth, scoring three times on just one hit. Pavich scored on a wild pitch, Regan scored on a fielder’s choice and Jake Huscroft stole home.
The Warriors’ three hits were a fourth-inning single by Bryce McMullen, a fifth-inning single by Brett Murray and a seventh-inning triple by pinch-hitter Michael Finocchiaro.
Willis, a junior left-hander, struck out the side in the first and second innings. Though he fanned nine, he didn’t go the required four innings so Andersen got credit for the win.
“Josh has outstanding stuff,’’ Geary said. “But he just needs to harness it a little more and avoid those walks.’’
Millard South (17-7) ...... 002 030 0—5 5 1
Om. Westside (20-7) ....... 100 000 0—1 3 1
W: Andersen. L: Willett. 2B: MS, Vermeer. 3B: OW, Finocchiaro. HR: MS, Regan.
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