By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
VIAN — He’s still not getting the perfect game but for Vian thus far in the Class 2A regional, John Brockman’s club is as perfect as they need to be.
The Wolverines got hits when they needed to and a clutch relief out in the seventh and broke a three-year losing streak in the winner’s bracket of regionals, beating Morris 7-6 here Friday.
Vian (31-2) awaits a rematch with the Eagles (20-9), a 7-5 winner over Kansas, on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a mulligan game in their pocket to use following that contest should it need to. One win punches the Wolverines’ first state ticket since 2007.
“We won and I’m glad for that but I’m not happy about our performance,” Brockman said. “I still think we didn’t hit very well. We did in spurts but we didn’t the whole time. We played pretty good defense but in that last ining we have to finish it off.”
He even said something to his team about their approach at the plate in a three-up, three-down first where Eagles hurler Nate Wynn registered two of his four strikeouts in four innings of work. Vian had just one hit and trailed 2-0 going into its half of the fourth.
Home runs in the fourth by Jon Andrews (his third) and Rowdy Simon (his fourth), both with two outs, brought the Wolverines from behind to lead 4-2. Andrews caught a flag-straightening wind blowing straight away to center for his solo shot and Simon parked one over the right field wall after Denver Coffee drew a walk. Ryan Smith came in in relief of Wynn, but the Wolverines plated three more in the fifth, two on a single to center by Shawn Troutman and another run-scoring single by Andrews.
Andrews ran his record to 9-1 on the mound and had allowed just four hits and struck out six through six innings while surviving the wind which took its turns rotating between blowing straight away to right field and kept fielders on their toes all day.
In the seventh, he loaded the bases with a hit batsman, a walk and a single by Clayton Smith. Garrett Tatty barely missed a sizzling shot down the left field line, falling a foot foul as two runs were crossing the plate. He still managed to plate one with a sacrifice fly, just as Dakota Washington did one batter later. Wynn, who had moved to third after exiting the mound in the fourth, doubled to right to make it a one-run game, forcing Brockman to bring in Brett Hooper, who got Alex Workman to ground out to third to end the game.
“These games are a little more pressure than those regular season games. I don’t know if he got tired but they were hitting him pretty good. There again he created a few of his own problems to start the inning.
“We’re not polished but at this point, winning is all that matters and we didn’t have to stretch our pitching like everyone else will now.”
That forgives a lot of should-haves.
“This win was big,” said Simon, whose home run was his fourth. “We’ve put ourselves in a hole the last three years by losing this game. Now we’re in the driver’s seat.”
The other area team in this region isn’t even in the car. Sequoyah, which lost 12-1 to Morris on Thursday, fell 12-10 to Kansas in the first elimination game Friday. The Indians led 3-0 before collapsing in a seven-run avalanche in the second assisted by two hit batters and a passed ball third strike which put a baserunner on. Between the two teams there were nine hit batsmen (Kansas pitchers plunked six Indians), 13 walks and seven errors. Billy Sunday had an inside the park home run for Sequoyah, which finished at 13-9.