Wayne Juniors secure spot in championship game
COLUMBUS — Brock Hopkins’ two-out single in the top of the seventh broke a 3-3 tie and helped the Wayne American Legion Post 43 Juniors to a 4-3 win over Hickman in the American Legion Class B Juniors state tournament Monday at Pawnee Park.
The win sends the 22-4 Wayne Juniors to the championship, although they will face Columbus Lakeview in a 7 p.m. game Tuesday that will be an elimination game for the host team.
Wayne finished off their 16-3 win over Lakeview early Monday afternoon, as the game was stopped by rain in the fourth inning Sunday evening, moving them into Monday night’s matchup with Hickman, who had won their first games over Alliance (2-0) and ETC Knights (7-5).
Hickman drew first blood in the bottom of the first when a wayne error allowed Charles Hood to come home and give the home team on the scoreboard a 1-0 advantage.
It stayed that way until the fourth when Wayne took advantage of some Hickman miscues to plate three runs. Jacob Kneifl singled and scored on Gunnar Jorgensen’s double down the left field line to tie the game, and Jorgensen and Bartos later came home on errors to stake Wayne to a 3-1 advantage.
Hickman came back with single runs in the fourth and sixth to tie the game, but Wayne had an answer in the sixth. Trevor DeBoer singled and was replaced by Tyrus Eischeid as a pinch runner. Reid Korth reached on an error to put two runners on, and after back-to-back strikeouts, Blake Bartos worked a walk to load the bases and set the stage for Hopkins’ heroics. He took the first pitch up the middle for a single that brought home Eischeid with the go-ahead run.
Hickman did get one last chance to tie the game. After a strikeout and foul out, Wayne was one strike away from victory when DeBoer plunked Bryson Schultz and Hood followed with a single to put the tying run at third. DeBoer got Noah VanBrocklin to ground out to Hopkins at second for the final out to give Wayne the win.
Wayne outhit Hickman 11-5 in the contest. Hopkins, Bartos, DeBoer and Josh Lutt each had two hits to lead the offensive attack. DeBoer went the distance on the mound, striking out four.
Hickman will battle Ashland in a 4 p.m. elimination game prior to Wayne’s 7 p.m. matchup with Lakeview on Tuesday. If Lakeview wins, they will face the Hickman-Ashland survivor on Wednesday at 5 p.m. with the winner playing Wayne for all the marbles at 8 p.m. A Wayne win means the Hickman-Ashland winner would have to win twice on Wednesday.