Wayne wins two to claim state baseball berth
WAHOO — After losing their first game to Lincoln Lutheran three days earlier, the Wayne Juniors turned the tables Tuesday with two fine pitching performances to earn a trip to next week’s state baseball tournament.
Trevor DeBoer threw a masterful two-hit gem in the opener, and Victor Kniesche subsequently overcame some early jitters to shut down Lincoln Lutheran as Wayne won 4-1 and 5-1 to earn the Area 5 spot in the American Legion Class B Juniors state tournament that begins Saturday in Columbus.
Wayne, which was the tournament’s top seed, put out a lackluster effort in a 4-2 loss to Lincoln Lutheran on Saturday, but the defending tournament champion came back with wins over Wahoo and Columbus Lakeview to earn a rematch Tuesday at Sam Crawford Field.
Coach Adam Hoffman was thrilled with the way his team avenged their opening-round loss.
“It was unreal. The kids just never quit,” he said. “You could have very easily came in after losing that first game and put your heads down, and I’m proud of how these kids stayed together and played hard.”
Wayne’s defense bent but never broke by DeBoer in the opener as he was able to silence Lincoln Lutheran on no hits through five innings and finished with five strikeouts and two walks. His performance allowed Hoffman to have more pitching options for the winner-take-all second game.
“That’s exactly what we needed from Trevor,” he said.
Wayne drew first blood in the opener in the top of the first when Hagan Miller was hit by a pitch and came home a fielder’s choice by Jacob Kneifl. They added another run in the third when Miller was again hit by a pitch and scored on a Reid Korth sacrifice fly.
Lincoln Lutheran had an opportunity to cut into the Wayne lead in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with one out. DeBoer served up a fastball that Jackson Oerman line up the middle, but Jacob Lutt made a leaping grab and stepped on second for the inning-ending double play.
“We had some big plays defensively that were momentum killers for them when they had chances to put runs on the board,” Hoffman said.
Wayne added to its lead in the fifth when Kneifl scored on a wild pitch and scored again in the sixth when Lutt walked and scored on a Korth single to left.
DeBoer lost his no-hit bid and the shutout in the sixth, and none of Wayne’s four errors came back to hurt them as they forced a second game.
Lincoln Lutheran loaded the bases in the top of the first off second-game starter Victor Kniesche, but his defense picked him up and carried that momentum forward, with Wayne scoring its first run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Korth, scoring Lutt.
Wayne broke the game open in the fourth when Korth led off with a triple and scored on a Kneifl single. Kneifl would follow him home on a sacrifice groundout by Blake Bartos.
Lincoln Lutheran had another opportunity to score silenced by a fantastic defensive play. Miller made a leaping grab of a line drive just off the third base line, then launched a rocket that caught a Lincoln Lutheran runner at first. Wayne followed that up with an RBI single by Kneifl that scored Tyrus Eischeid, who ran for Korth after his two-out double to left capped a 3-for-3 night.
Kniesche pitched six solid innings before turning the ball over to Drew Buck, who threw a spotless seventh to send the Wayne Juniors to this week’s state tournament.
“(Kniesche) threw a lot of pitches that first inning, but he came back and threw strikes and let the defense do the work, and it was just awesome for him to step up like that,” Hoffman said.
The Wayne Juniors carry a 19-4 record into the first round of the state tournament against Area 2 champion Ashland, and after Tuesday’s performance, Hoffman is excited about his team’s chances after going 0-2 at state last year.
“There was one job we had to do tonight and we took care of business, and getting back that second year in a row is great for these kids,” he said. “They’ll know what to expect now and we’ll head to Columbus and hopefully put on a show.”
Class B Area 5 at Wahoo
Wayne 4, Lincoln Lutheran 1
Wayne 101 011 0 — 4 5 4
Linc. Lutheran 000 001 0 — 1 2 5
WP: DeBoer. LP: Lofgren.
Wayne , Lincoln Lutheran
Linc. Lutheran 000 001 0 — 1 5 3
Wayne 100 211 x — 5 11 0
WP: Kniesche. LP: Lebo. 2B: Korth, Kniesche. 3B: Korth.