Wildcats take a devastating loss

Gretna storms back to steal a win from the Wildcats


Photo by Evan Vaslow

As the Wildcats prepare for their tough close to the regular season there are many things they can work on. The team needs to learn from their mistakes in the seventh innings of this game and use them to improve. “We need to pitch well and play good defense,” Frey said. “Not give up free bases and make them earn their runs. We need to produce runs when we have runners in scoring position.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

Fresh off a tough loss to Bellevue West in the Metro Conference Championship game, the varsity baseball team battled the Gretna Dragons on Tuesday, April 20. Millard West came into this game with a record of 15-7, with their most previous game being an 8-1 loss. Gretna entered this game with a much less impressive record, 6-7. These two teams faced off earlier in the season with the Wildcats winning 6-1 so confidence was high going into this game.

Gretna was the away team and came to bat in the top of the first inning; they were able to get runners to second and third before a groundout and strikeout ended the top of the first. Senior Kyan Lodice led off the home half of the first with a single. A bunt from junior Maddux Fleck advanced Lodice to third. A double by junior Drew Borner, scored Lodice and gave the Wildcats a quick 1-0 lead. Junior Rice Whitaker reached on an error and advanced Borner to third, and Whitaker stole second base a couple of pitches later. Junior Avery Moore followed this by hitting a sacrifice fly to deep left field, scoring Borner, and Whitaker remained at second. Senior Cade Owens then hit a single up the middle, scoring Whitaker and giving the Wildcats a 3-0 lead before a strikeout ended the inning.

“I think the team started out with really good energy and put a hammer down especially in the first inning,” Lodice said. “We came out swinging it well and throughout the game we were hitting balls hard.”

Neither team was able to materialize anything in the second inning and the game went to the third inning still 3-0. In the top of the third inning, senior Gabe Melton led off and hit a triple to right center field, giving the Dragons a chance to strike. Melton was able to score just a couple of pitches later, narrowing the Millard West lead to 3-1. The Wildcats were not able to get anything going in their half of the third which gave the bats to Gretna in the top of the fourth. The first batter of the inning grounded out to short which put the bat in the hands of senior Kaden Conrad. He hit a single which was immediately followed by senior Caden Boswell’s single up the middle, giving the Dragons a chance to cut into the Wildcat lead. The next batter was hit by a pitch, giving Gretna the bases loaded with only one out. A wild pitch in the next at bat allowed each runner to advance a base, scoring another run, cutting the Wildcat lead to 3-2. Gretna could not score more however as a strikeout ended the away half of the fourth inning.

The Wildcats had tough sledding in their half of the fourth inning and momentum was shifting to the Gretna side of the field. Gretna came to bat in the top of the fifth inning and was able to get a runner to third base; however, he was left stranded as a strikeout ended the inning. Lodice led off the Wildcat half of the fifth with an infield single and stole second base a few pitches later. A single by Fleck scored Lodice and extended the Wildcat lead to 4-2, however three quick outs ended the fifth inning. Neither team was able to manufacture runs in the sixth inning, and the Wildcats went into the seventh inning, chasing only three outs to secure a win.

However, this turned out to be too tall of a task. Sophomore Caleb Schnell led off the inning with a single to shallow left field, which was followed by a walk and a pair of wild pitches that put runners at second and third. A single up the middle by senior Colton Munn scored the runner from third and advanced the runner at second. An overthrow allowed Munn to get to second, giving Gretna runners at second and third yet again, this time with only a one run deficit. This caused head coach Steve Frey to pull senior Dylan Swaney off the mound and put the ball in the hand of senior Justin Deremer. 

“We haven’t had that situation occur much at all this year,” Frey said. “We need to make sure we pitch well and make the plays in the field – not give the other team free bases and more chances to score.”

However, things did not get much better for the Wildcats as the first pitch from Deremer sailed over the head of the catcher and allowed each runner to advance, and allowing the tying run to cross the plate. Deremer then hit the next batter, giving the Dragons runners on the corners. Senior Rusty Wortman then hit a sharp groundball to senior Corbin Hawkins who was able to throw out the runner from third trying to give Gretna the lead. However, Gretna was still threatening with runners at second and third and only one out. Frey then opted to intentionally walk the next batter, loading the bases, and setting up the double play. Gretna was able to take their first lead of the game when a ground ball to Fleck was mishandled and the go-ahead run crossed the plate. The Wildcats were able to get out of the inning before Gretna could score again; however, the damage was done, and the Wildcats went into their final chance trailing 5-4. Millard West was not able to push any runs across and went down in order and ended the game as a devastating loss.

“Looking back at the game we need to do a better job of applying pressure in every inning of the game,” Lodice said. “We threw one big punch in the first inning and that was about it. If we find a way to be consistent with getting runners on base, we will be in a good spot.”

The Wildcats have a very tough stretch the rest of the regular season as they take on Westside, Bellevue West, and Creighton Prep.