CENTRAL PLAINS REGIONAL: Connolly, Omaha beat Brookings despite delaysOmaha (Neb.) PI Midwest walked on Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark ready to play Saturday afternoon. Neither pouring rain, a prolonged delay nor the Brookings (S.D.) Bandits could stop them.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Omaha (Neb.) PI Midwest walked on Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark ready to play Saturday afternoon.
Neither pouring rain, a prolonged delay nor the Brookings (S.D.) Bandits could stop them.
The Blue Jays put up five runs on five hits in the first inning and rolled from there, even shaking off a pair of rain delays — one 15 minutes and the other nearly 2½ hours — to advance to the final four of the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament with a 12-5 victory in a game that took more than 5 hours to complete.
Omaha plays Edina, Minn., at 3 p.m. today in a loser-out game.
“It was a long day,” said Omaha center fielder Kevin Connolly, who had five RBI. “There was a lot of stuff to do in between.”
In between the two rain delays, the teams played for six minutes.
It was all the time Connolly needed to help Omaha break away.
He blasted a first-pitch home run over the left-field fence to give the Blue Jays a 9-3 lead.
“I really had a good look and saw a pitch that was hanging up there,” Connolly said. “I kind of put a good swing on it.”
One batter later, at 6:14 p.m., the game was halted by a downpour. While the rain lasted less than an hour and the water quickly seeped through the artificial turf in the infield, officials were concerned about a low spot in left-center field that filled with water.
Officials’ efforts to fix the spot prolonged the delay and at 9:40 p.m., the game finally resumed.
Omaha put two more runs on the board after the delay ended. Zach Garrett scored on a wild pitch and double steal plated Scott Huber to give the Blue Jays an 11-3 lead.
Omaha head coach Pat Mooney said the real clincher came early when his team put up five runs in the first — especially following Friday night’s wild, late-night 9-7 loss to Eden Prairie, Minn.
“At this time in the tournament, you’ve got to outscore them,” Mooney said. “You just have to keep swinging, keep swinging. We hit on some that we needed to. After a loss, you never know how they’re going to be. Sometimes they’re tentative. … The five-run top of the first really helped. That really set the tone for us and eased some of our tension of coming off a loss. That helped.”
Along with Connolly’s two-run double in the first, Garrett and Taylor Elman had RBI singles and Mike Emodi added a sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays took a 7-3 lead after Evan Ryan’s two-run, stand-up triple to the left-center gap in the fourth.
Nick Ramsey got the win for Omaha after reliving starter Adam Wilson in the third.
Ramsey was in control before and after the delay while Brookings had to make a pitching change, swapping out starter Corey Roach for Skyler Cary.
Ramsey, who struck out four without a walk and didn’t give up an earned run over 6 2/3 innings, got the win while Roach took the loss.
Despite falling behind big early on, Brookings didn’t let its season end without a fight.
Riley Bullington was 4-for-6 with a RBI single in the second and Matt Pejsa got the Bandits within two runs, 5-3, on a RBI single in the third.
“When we got down early, it would have been so easy — running out of pitching, guys arms are tired — but we kept fighting,” Brookings head coach Rob Hirrschoff said. “That’s been a trademark of our team all year, keep battling and play hard until the last out is played.”
Omaha 500 241 000 — 12 11 7
Brookings 021 010 010 — 5 11 3
Corey Roach, Skyler Cary (5) and Austin Koenig. Adam Wilson, Nick Ramsey (3) and Mike Emodi. W–Ramsey. L–Roach. HR–O, Kevin Connolly.
Highlights: O, Ramsey 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB; Jon Hechtner 0-for-4, 2 R: Cale Dineen 2-for-5, R; Evan Ryan 2-for-4, 2 RBI, R; T.J. Wood 2-for-5, 2 R; Connolly 2-for-5, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R; Mike Emodi 0-for-4, RBI; Scott Huber 1-for-4, 2 R; Zach Garrett 1-for-3, RBI, R. B, Riley Bullington 4-for-6, RBI; Matt Thomas 1-for-4; Corey Roach 1-for-2, R; Konner Beste 2-for-5, R; Matt Pejsa 2-for-5, RBI; Thomas McMacken 2-for-4, R; Roach 4 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 10 R, 2 K, 2 BB; Cary 5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB.
Records: Brookings 43-12, Omaha 45-8.