LINCOLN — Matt Waldron picked up where he'd left off, and that was a big key to victory Friday for the team from Omaha Westside.
Waldron allowed two hits over eight innings to lead KB Building Services to a 9-0 victory over Union Bank (Lincoln Pius X) in the American Division final of the American Legion Class A state tournament. The win boosts KB into the state final at 6 p.m. Saturday against host PI Midwest (Omaha Creighton Prep).
Waldron had thrown four scoreless innings of the division final Thursday night at Sherman Field before the game was suspended because of rain. He went back to the hill Friday and was just as dominating, allowing one hit and no runs in four more innings of work.
“Matt felt a little stiff warming up today, but he didn't have any soreness,” KB coach Bob Greco said. “I'm not sure if he was quite loose enough at the start, but he made it through.”
Waldron said he was ready to go Friday despite the 19-hour layoff.
“I think I felt better today than yesterday,” he said. “But I was a little worried at first because I didn't want to mess up.”
Union Bank entered Friday trailing 2-0 after KB had scored a pair of first-inning runs Thursday night against starter Daniel LeDuc. Coach Troy Charf's squad put runners at second and third with one out in the fifth — Waldron's first inning of work Friday — but came up empty.
That followed a missed scoring chance Thursday night when Waldron wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth.
“We had two cracks at him and we couldn't get it done,” Charf said. “To get nothing either inning was tough.”
Unlike Greco's decision to stay with starter Waldron, Charf sent Tom Schneider to the mound Friday in place of LeDuc. He appeared headed for an easy top of the sixth by retiring the first two batters. But that's when KB broke the game open.
Will Patterson started it with an opposite-field single, and Waldron followed with a walk. Luke Biggs then belted a two-run double to deep left that glanced off the glove of leaping left fielder Cole Felber near the warning track.
“If he catches that, they don't get any runs that inning,” Charf said. “He made a great try and almost had it.”
Four more players — Brock Nemecek, Jake Meyers, Devin Stueck and Drew Fitzmorris — all singled before Mike Waldron made the final out. When the big inning was over, KB had plated five two-out runs and given Matt Waldron a lot of breathing room.
Greco credited KB hitting coach Curt Shockey for putting in some extra work with the players before Friday's game.
“He slept about two hours last night because we just haven't been hitting the ball,” Greco said. “But today, we got it done.”
KB tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth, one scoring on a fielder's choice by Fitzmorris and the other coming home on an infield error.
Waldron allowed just one base runner in four innings of work Friday, and Biggs pitched the ninth to cap off the victory.
In addition to clinching a spot in Saturday night's state championship game, the team from Westside — which won the Class A varsity crown in the spring — also nailed down a regional berth. Greco's squad will join PI Midwest in the eight-team Central Plains Regional that begins Thursday in Fargo, N.D.
“Our first goal this summer was to make the regional and our second goal was to double up (spring-summer titles),” Greco said. “This was a tough tourney, so the kids deserve a lot of credit.”
KB Building Services (41-10) ............................ 200 005 011—9 11 1
Union Bank (37-13) ............................ 000 000 000—0 2 2
W: Matt Waldron. L: LeDuc. 2B: Biggs, Meyers.