LINCOLN — A quick start and Avery Moore's big bat helped boost Millard West to victory Saturday at the Class A state baseball tournament.
The Wildcats scored three in the first and Moore later blasted a three-run homer in a 6-2 win over Papillion-La Vista South. The first-round victory at Den Hartog Field lifts Millard West into a winners bracket game Monday against Millard South.
The Titans fall into a losers bracket game against Columbus.
"Getting three in the first was huge," Wildcats coach Steve Frey said. "It seemed to get everybody going."
Ty Kalb had a two-run double in that opening inning and Corbin Hawkins followed with an RBI double. Papio South got one run back on Garrett Freeman's solo homer in the second before Moore broke the game open in the third.
The Wildcats had two on and two out when Moore's shot disappeared over the left-field fence, extending Millard West's lead to 6-1.
"That's probably one of the hardest balls I've ever hit," Moore said. "I knew it was gone off the bat."
Titans coach Bill Lynam said that blast made any sort of a comeback difficult.
"That was a killer," he said. "We left one up and it got tattooed."
Papio South scored its final run in the fifth on an RBI double by Jackson Trout.
Millard West starter Kael Dumont went five innings, surrendering five hits and two runs. Drew Deremer and Mason Koch finished up for the Wildcats, who moved to 25-11.
Frey said he was concerned having a week off before the start of the state tourney.
"We play a lot of games during the season so I was hoping we'd be able to keep our energy up," he said. "We did a lot of practicing this week."
Now Millard West will play Millard South in a 4 p.m. game Monday at Haymarket Park in a rematch of the 2019 final, won by the Wildcats 2-1 in 11 innings. Millard West also has captured both games this season against the Patriots.
"We've seen Millard South quite a bit so we're all pretty familiar," Frey said. "And those wins earlier this year against them mean nothing here at state."
Millard West (25-11).......................303 000 0—6 9 1
Papillion-La Vista South (20-9)......010 010 0—2 6 2
W: Dumont. L: Ripple. 2B: MW, Kalb, Hawkins, Moore; PLVS, Sides, Trout. HR: MW, Moore; PLVS, Freeman.