Photo Showcase: Nebraska state baseball Monday
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LINCOLN — Trailing by five runs early against Lincoln East, Millard North desperately needed someone to shut down the Spartans.
Senior reliever Cody Houdesheldt did just that as the Mustangs rallied for a 9-5 victory Monday at Haymarket Park in a winners bracket game of the Class A state baseball tournament. Millard North moves on to a 7 p.m. game Tuesday night at Sherman Field while Lincoln East drops into a 4 p.m. losers bracket game Tuesday at Sherman.
Houdesheldt kept the Spartans guessing with his sidearm delivery as his teammates methodically battled back. The Mustangs trailed 5-0 in the top of the third but scored four in the bottom of the inning and two more in the fourth to take the lead for good.
"I knew I had to go out and throw a lot of strikes,'' Houdesheldt said. "I had to step up because I knew our guys would come through with the bats.''
The upstart Spartans, seeded eighth in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, appeared to be on their way to a second straight upset. After defeating top-seeded and top-ranked Omaha Creighton Prep on Saturday, Lincoln East jumped to a 5-0 lead against fourth-seeded Millard North and starter Shayne Kelly.
Enter Houdesheldt, who came on in the third inning with runners at first and second and none out. He got out of that inning without further damage and allowed just four base runners the rest of the game.
"Cody has a huge heart,'' Millard North coach Dave Cork said. "The kids all look up to him and he did a great job today.''
The Mustangs plated four in the third as Parker Korbitz, Dallas Schramm, Joe Dugan and Nick DeLuca had RBIs. Millard North went ahead in the fourth on a two-run single by Jack Wilson, and then tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth.
Cork's squad closed out the win in the seventh with some solid defense. Second baseman Matt Evans robbed Jared Nelson by making a diving stop to his right and shortstop Jake Siadek started a 6-3 double play on a grounder by Grady Henrichs to end it.
It was a satisfying finish for the Mustangs, who showed up at Haymarket shortly before their pregame infield practice was scheduled to start after their bus driver took a wrong turn to the stadium.
"We didn't start playing until we got down 5-0,'' Cork said. "Things happen, so I'm just glad we got things turned around.''
Lincoln East (18-14) ........104 000 0--5 8 4
Millard North (27-7) ........... 004 203 x--9 6 1
W: Houdesheldt. L: Ozaki. 2B: LE, Pinkman.