OMAHA–(KFOR May 19)–It couldn’t have happened in more dramatic fashion.

Lincoln East, in their eighth trip to the NSAA Class A State High School Baseball Tournament in 56 years of existence, kept fans on the edge of their seats and found ways to capitalize late to earn their first ever state baseball title on Friday night.

The Spartans got an RBI single to right field from sophomore shortstop Joey Senstock that scored left fielder Troy Peltz from second in the top of the 10th inning.  Then a ground out to Owen Laessig at second to record the final out in the bottom half of the inning gave East a 3-2 extra innings victory over defending state champion Millard West and the Class A crown at Tal Anderson Field.

The Spartans finish the year 31-4 and won all four games they played in the State Tournament to bring back Lincoln’s first Class A state baseball title since 1977, when Lincoln Southeast beat Papillion 5-2 at Ralston’s Orval Smith Field.

For East, it’s a five-year process in the making for head coach Mychal Lanik, who took over the baseball program in 2018.  And it’s finally paid off.

Though the road to the state title wasn’t exactly easy for the Spartans.  In the State Tournament opener May 12, East rallied back to beat Bellevue West 2-1, then beat Elkhorn South twice on Monday and Wednesday to advance to Friday’s state title game.

Millard West (30-8) got a head start on East’s junior left-handed pitcher Carter Mick by loading up the bases in the first inning and a sac fly from Caden Driessen drove in the first run.  Driessen later got a bunt single in the third inning for the Wildcats second and final run.

Mick, though, found a way to persevere on the mound by striking out 12 batters in six  innings.  Paul Shortridge, Monday’s starter in East’s win over Elkhorn South, came in to help finish the game.

The Spartans trailed 2-0 entering the top of the 5th inning, when Tanner Peterson walked, then Peltz picked up a hit.  Peterson later scored on a past ball and junior AJ Evasco lated singled to allow Peltz to score.

One of the best plays of the night came in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded for Millard West and Caden Driessen hit a fly ball to left field.  East’s Troy Peltz made the catch and rifled a throw to home play to throw out Landon Horst and force extra innings.

Peltz singled to lead off the top of the 10th inning, then Evasco laid down a bunt and both were safe. That’s when Senstock followed up two batters later to drive in Peltz.

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