Grant Renken drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
He then protected that lead on the mound to lift the 52s Patriots (Millard South) to the American Legion Class A title.
The Patriots defeated host Five Points Bank (Omaha Creighton Prep) 4-3 to claim the championship for the first time since 1988. It also was redemption for the 52s, which were throttled by the Junior Jays in the recent area tournament.
“We kind of got our butts kicked in that tourney,” Renken said. “We had a really hard practice when that was over, and we’ve turned it around since.”
Coach Greg Geary’s squad went 5-0 after that practice to capture the American Division of the state tournament. Five Points Bank, which defeated the Patriots 8-0 and 14-0 in the A-1 area tourney, went 5-0 to win the National Division.
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The 52s will advance to the Central Plains Regional next week as the Nebraska champion. The runner-up Junior Jays also will compete in the regional in Rapid City, S.D.
“Our guys were motivated today, that’s for sure,” Geary said. “We were pretty bad in the area tournament and our guys were on a mission to get this done.”
The Patriots led 3-0 after four innings as Braden Cannon had all three RBIs. He lofted a sacrifice fly in the first inning and had a two-run double to left in the third.
Starter Conlin Grady held that lead before running into trouble in the fifth. The Junior Jays got RBIs from Coby Hatcher, Parker Mooney and Jack Thiele to get it tied 3-3.
Renken came on in relief with runners on first and second and got the final out of the fifth when Grant Sommers lined to right.
The 52s went back ahead in the sixth after one-out singles from Cannon and Max Heard. With two out, Renken grounded an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-3.
“I fouled off two curves and just tried to hang tough,” he said. “The pitch was on the outside corner and I just kind of went with it.”
Renken retired the Junior Jays in the sixth before facing the top of the order in the seventh. Mooney singled with one out but Renken got the next two batters, triggering a dogpile near second base.
It also led to a water cooler splash for Geary, who saw his team boost its record to 36-11.
“Conlin did a great job to start and Grant did an awesome job in relief,” he said. “And Braden did what he does for us all the time, and that’s come through in the clutch.”
Pat Mooney said his 36-11 Junior Jays played well but weren’t quite good enough.
“It was a well-pitched game on both sides,” he said. “I liked the way we battled back but they got the big hit when they needed it.”
Ryan Bauer went three innings for the Junior Jays, followed by Robert O’Malley and Grant Wagner.
Mooney said the consolation prize is that both teams will advance to the regional that begins Wednesday.
“If this had been it for us, that would have been tough,” he said. “We’ve still got more baseball to play.”
52s Patriots (36-11)……………102 001 0—4 5 1
Five Points Bank (36-11)……..000 030 0—3 6 0
W: Renken. L: Wagner. 2B: 52s, Cannon; FPB, Thiele.