Wayne makes early exit from Seniors tournament
WAYNE — After their Juniors team claimed its first state title in more than 50 years a week earlier, the Wayne American Legion Post 43 Seniors were hoping to match that finish on its home turf.
It was not meant to be, however, as Wayne dropped games to Lincoln Lutheran and Wahoo to make an early exit from the Nebraska American Legion Class B Seniors state tournament over the weekend at Hank Overin Field.
Wayne’s defense fell apart late on Saturday night in an 8-3 loss to Lincoln Lutheran, and a late comeback effort fell short Sunday as Wayne lost its third postseason game to Area 5 champion Wahoo in 10 days with a 3-2 defeat.
Saturday’s opener came after a five-hour rain delay, as Lincoln Lutheran came back from a 3-1 deficit to score seven unanswered runs in the final two innings.
Wayne’s defense and pitching were solid in Sunday’s elimination game against a Wahoo team that had defeated Wayne twice in the Area 5 tournament in West Point a week earlier.
Wahoo broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Karson Hesser, then got two key insurance runs in the sixth to take a 3-0 lead.
Wayne tried to come back in the top of the seventh and put themselves in position as Brennan O’Reilly singled home Adam Bentjen before scoring on a single by Tucker Nichols. Wayne had Tyler Lutt in scoring position with two outs, but Wahoo pitcher Austin Scott was able to get out of the inning and end Wayne’s season at 14-14.
“It was kind of disappointing, but on the other hand we did battle back,” Wayne coach Robbie Gamble said of his team’s effort. “If it would have wound up 3-0 it would have been disappointing, but this team has fought back down to the very end all season and I’m proud of them for that.”
Zane Jackson and Hagan Miller both had two hits for the Wayne Seniors, and Bentjen pitched well in a losing effort, Gamble said.
“There were a couple of times where he’d walk a guy and we thought about pulling him, but then he bounced back and battled and stayed in the zone and did a great job,” Gamble said.
Wayne’s Seniors will lose a lot of its lineup next year, and while Gamble will have a number of players from the state-champion Juniors squad to work with, there will be a lot of holes to fill in the lineup for next summer.
“These kids were a tight-knit group and I’ve been coaching them the last six years. It’s been nothing but a pleasure to be part of it,” he said. “They went to (Legion) state three out of four years, so there are going to be a lot of holes to fill next year.”
Area 5 champion Wahoo is one of six teams still in the hunt for a state title after the first weekend of play at Hank Overin Field.
The tournament runs through Wednesday, with the final day of play set up for 5 p.m. at Hank Overin Field.
Lincoln Lutheran 8, Wayne 3
Lincoln Lutheran 100 002 5 — 8 10 5
Wayne 100 020 0 — 3 6 3
WP: Hilton. LP: Lutt.
Wahoo 3, Wayne 2
Wayne 000 000 2 — 2 6 2
Wahoo 000 012 x — 3 7 1
WP: Scott. LP: Bentjen.