A pitching gem was moments away from complete collapse for Wapahani’s Zack Thompson in the sixth inning Thursday.
Lapel had loaded the bases in the previous inning but grounded into a close force-out at second base, ending the threat.
This time, after two walks and and an infield single, Lapel’s Todd Sherwood hit a sharp ground ball straight back to Thompson, who fielded the ball and fired to catcher Grant Thompson for an out. Grant Thompson then threw to Austin White to complete the double play and end the inning as the Wapahani faithful erupted.
Wapahani went on to defeat Lapel 7-1 in the semifinals of the Frankton Sectional baseball tournament behind Zack Thompson’s complete game, 12-strikeout performance.
“I kept them off balance with my off-speed well and it showed with the results,” he said. “I just had to bear down and focus and keep my sights on the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Class 2A No. 1 Raiders (24-4) will play Frankton at 5 p.m. Monday in the championship game. Frankton beat Winchester 12-2 in the other semifinal.
Zack Thompson struck out four of the first five batters and had a no-hitter until the fourth inning, when a single by Lapel’s John Magers ended the bid. The sophomore said he used four different pitches to get results, most of them swings and misses. When batters did make contact, it was weak and rarely left the infield.
Wapahani opened the scoring in the third inning, when Taylor McKee came home off a throwing error. Luke Snider then scored on a Hayden Castor single to make it 2-0. McKee would score again in the fourth inning, while a throwing error by Wapahani allowed Lapel’s Austin Begley to score in the fifth inning, cutting the Raiders’ lead to 3-1.
After Snider scored on a passed ball in the seventh, Zack Thompson stepped to the plate and helped his own cause. He crushed an inside pitch deep over the left-field fence for a home run, scoring Hunter Stanley and White and giving his team a 6-1 advantage.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Lapel’s Nolan Clark sitting on two strikes, Zach Thompson knew exactly what pitch he needed to throw.
He fired a pitch that quickly dove low, and watched the batter swing and miss, ending all hopes for a comeback. Zach Thompson didn’t want to divulge the pitches that made him successful.
“That’s a trade secret,” he said.