After a rain delay pushed the conclusion of Game 9 at The American Legion World Series to Sunday morning, Omaha Post 1 coach Pat Mooney acknowledged he hoped his team wouldn’t have had to play a fourth day in a row.
But he’ll take the result.
Omaha rallied twice, once Saturday night and again Sunday morning, to defeat Shrewsbury (Mass.) Post 397, 8-5. Omaha earned a berth into Monday’s semifinals with a 3-0 record in pool play.
“We’re in the exact spot we want to be,” Mooney said. “… I was hoping we didn’t have to play today to finally get a day off, but it wasn’t that bad.”
Omaha (57-5 overall) had no problems getting on base against Shrewsbury (34-7, 1-2). Scoring those runners, though, was another story.
Omaha left 13 on base over the seven-inning game, including three bases-loaded situations.
“It’s a good thing that we are getting a lot of guys on base, that means we’re getting on base,” Mooney said. “And with the caliber of pitching we’re seeing, they’re going to make good pitches and get out of innings too. I think that’s maybe more of a tribute to the pitchers making pitches after somebody gets on, they get tougher.
“We keep getting on, I’m happy as a clam.”
Saturday night, Omaha’s first two batters reached base, Tommy Steier on a walk and Will Hanafan with a single. A wild pitch moved Steier to third, and Hanafan then stole second. But Pat Shaughnessy forced two popouts and a groundout to get out of trouble.
In the bottom of the first, Shrewsbury’s David Turco doubled and Jack Gardner walked, but Max Mandel forced a groundout to end the inning.
Steier and Hanafan each singled to start the third, but again failed to score as Steier was thrown out at third as Zach Luckey reached on a fielder’s choice. Dylan Phillips was intentionally walked to load the bases, but a foulout and a highlight catch at the warning track by Adam Twitchell got Shaughnessy out of trouble again.
In the bottom of the third, Twitchell singled and Turco walked, and the two Shrewsbury runners advanced on a wild pitch. That set up Twitchell to score on Nick Martin’s single to make it 1-0.
In the fourth, Evan Laney was hit by a pitch and Steier and Hanafan each drew walks to load the bases, but all were left stranded again. Omaha left nine runners stranded in the first four innings. But the Nebraska team finally broke through in the fifth. With one out, Lucas Ripa reached on an error and Owen Richter walked. That prompted a pitching change for Shrewsbury, with Dylan Degon coming in for Shaughnessy.
Unfortunately for Shrewsbury, the change didn’t pay off. Ripa and Richter advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on Nathan Reiner’s second double of the night to make it 2-1. A sacrifice fly by Laney scored Reiner, and Omaha went into the bottom of the fifth with a 3-1 lead.
The threat of looming rain prompted the grounds crew to scramble the tarp onto the field, just in time before the rains came. The downpour prompted ALWS officials to delay the game until Sunday morning.
When play resumed Sunday, Zach Firmature was on in place of Mandel. Christian Jordan walked and Twitchell singled, and after a wild pitch, Turco reached on a fielder’s choice to score Jordan. Gardner later doubled to score Turco and tie the game 3-3.
Omaha answered in the top of the sixth. With two out, Ripa doubled to score Hanafan and Phillips and a Richter single scored Ripa to make it 6-3. The Nebraska team also left three more runners on base at the end of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Steier scored when Phillips reached on a fielder’s choice, and Hanafan scored on Ripa’s sac fly to make it 8-3. Shrewsbury scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, when Gardner’s single drove home Moschella and Twitchell. But they could get no closer.
Omaha, winners of the Stripes division, will play the Stars runner-up in Game 14 at 7:30 p.m. Monday night.