Bears upset No. 6 Norris in 11-inning thriller

BHS breaks 5-game losing streak with 1st win


It took 3 hours and 45 minutes at Hickman City Park on Friday, but the Blair Bears finally did it.
Coach John Roan's baseball team topped Class B No. 6 Norris in 11 innings, 6-4, shaking off a five-game losing streak to start the spring. It lost three of the games by a run apiece at it struggled to close out potential victories.
“We've been toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in Class B throughout our season so far, and we know we have enough talent to compete with anyone and win any game,” senior outfielder Brady Brown said. “So, it just felt awesome to be able to go really deep in this game and get a good win for our team.”
“We just needed a game to get ourselves rolling here,” Lucas Matjeka added.
The junior pushed across the winning runs during the top of the 11th frame after starting the Eastern Midlands Conference matchup on the pitching mound. Right-hander Blaine Rosenbaum relieved him after 5 1/3 innings, holding the Titans scoreless for another 4 2/3.
It was Brown, though, who earned the last three outs with his right arm. He struck out two batters and walked two before Matejka squeezed the last out on a blooper to his new spot at third base.
“Lucas and Blaine did a fantastic job holding a great team to barely any runs the whole entire game,” Brown said. “I was excited to come finish the job, but needed to make sure I finished what Lucas and Blaine started.”
The Bears, meanwhile, started with three runs during the second and third innings in Hickman. Senior J'Shawn Unger scored the first from third base when Norris attempted to throw out Nate Wachter, who'd taken off from first to second.
Nelson Kosch plated Wachter next before the catcher added his own RBI double to deep centerfield during the next inning.
The hometown Titans kept pace, however, tying the game at 3-all during the bottom half of the third frame. They later scored a 4-3 advantage when Logan Michel hit an RBI single in the fifth.
Trailing by the same score in the seventh inning, Blair's Owen Mann scored on Swanson's one-out single off of LSU commit Kale Fountain. The hit extended the game, keeping the Bears' hopes of their first victory alive.
“I was just trying to focus in the moment and be in the moment,” Swanson said after a multi-hit game against the Titans. “Be present.”
Rosenbaum and the BHS defense held Norris off in extra innings despite a pair of bases-loaded scenarios during both the ninth and 10th innings. The home team filled the bags with none out in the ninth, but couldn't score as the Bears' relief pitcher induced a popout, struck out a Norris batter on a full-count offering and drew another deep flyout.
The defensive effort set up Swanson to lead off the top of the 11th. The senior first baseman hammered the ball, doubling it off of the centerfield wall.
“Honestly, I thought it was out,” he said. “But it's a small field, so I knew I'd probably get second (base) either way.”
Brown was hit by a pitch next before the Titans earned back-to-back outs. So, with two runners on and two outs, Matejka stepped into the batter's box.
“It was a really nervous moment for me,” he said. “I had a lot on the plate with two runners in scoring position to give our team the lead.”
The day's starting pitcher delivered, though, hitting the ball on the ground through the right side of the infield.
“I choked up on the bat and just wanted to put the ball in play,” Matejka said. “Thankfully, I hit it kind of up the middle and scored those two.”
Swanson was complimentary of his teammate's poise.
“We needed some guys to step up and he really did,” the senior said. “It's great to see and promising for our team going forward.”
Three outs later, Blair celebrated its first win of the season after 225 minutes on the diamond in Hickman City Park. It'd closed out a victory after failing to do so against top Class B competition.
“We've had many talks about having a fresh new start to start piling on wins,” Brown said. “This was the start and it was a really good one, too.”

Bears fall to No. 3 Waverly
BHS came back from a 5-2 deficit with four fifth-inning runs Thursday, too, but it couldn't eek out a home upset of No. 3 Waverly.
The Bears led 6-5 going into the top of the seventh frame, but ultimately lost 7-6 in nine when they couldn't match the Vikings' output during the top half. The loss was Blair's fifth in five tries, while its guest improved to 7-1.
Down by a run in what proved to be the final inning, Swanson and Brown both delivered game-extending singles. The third out wasn't far behind, though, as the home team dropped to 0-2 at Vets Field.
The Bears were scheduled to play at Beatrice on Monday and next play at Omaha North on Wednesday. Their next home game is 6:30 p.m. Thursday against Ralston.

Blair 6, No. 6 Norris 4, 11 inn.
BHS (1-5) 0 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 — 6
NHS (5-3) 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 4
No. 3 Waverly 7, Blair 6, 9 inn.
WHS (7-1) 2 1 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 — 7
BHS (0-5) 0 1 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 — 6

Blair Baseball