10 inning dog fight leaves Lincoln East Baseball victorious

Photo by Photo Courtesy of Lincoln Journal Star
The Lincoln East Baseball team ended a 46-year drought by capturing the state baseball title on Friday May 19th, 2023 at UNO’s Tal Anderson Field. (L-R) Tanner Peterson, Landon Sandy (16) and Kai Burkey celebrate with Troy Peltz (2) after he threw out a runner at home to save the game in the bottom of the 7th inning.

For the first time since 1977, a Class A Lincoln school captured the state title in baseball. On Friday May 19th, 2023 at 7:00pm, the number two seed going into the tournament, the Lincoln East Spartans, faced off against the number one seeded Millard West Wildcats, with a chance to make history at UNO’s Tal Anderson Field. The two teams had met previously twice in the regular season, and both times Lincoln East was victorious. The long and overdue 46-year drought was ended, after the Spartans brought back Lincoln East’s first ever state title in baseball, with a 3-2 victory over Millard West.

Both the Spartans and the Wildcats came to face each other in the championship after collecting wins against Grand Island and Elkhorn South. Carter Mick, Lincoln East’s ace, was slated for the start on full rest, as was Drew Deremer, one of the top pitchers in the state, and the Wildcats’ best.

Despite getting slightly rattled in the bottom of the 1st inning and allowing one run, Carter Mick went on to pitch six innings, only allowing two earned runs and five hits, while striking out a season high 12 batters.

“I just wanted to keep my team in it and I knew whoever was going to come in next was going to shut it down,” Mick said. “I knew I had to do whatever it took, and that’s what I did.”

The Spartans trailed by two runs until the top of the fifth inning, when Ashton Moser scored on a wild pitch and AJ Evasco batted in Troy Peltz to tie the game.

“I’m full of emotions right now,” Peltz said. “It was a crazy night so I was happy we got it done for our coaches and our seniors.”

The game was on the line when Lincoln East’s left-handed reliever, Paul Shortridge, ended up with the bases loaded. Troy Peltz, the left fielder and just a sophomore, caught a fly ball, and shot a laser home to fellow sophomore catcher Jeter Worthley, who tagged out the runner, sending the Spartans to extra innings.

“Troy is 15 years old out there,” Head Coach Mychal Lanik said. “The game was on the line and that was a huge play.”
Paul Shortridge came in to relieve Carter Mick, as Nick Venteicher did for Deremer. The two battled it out with strong defense behind them.
“It was fun battling back with Nick, who I’ve known for a while,” Shortridge said. “He’s a fierce competitor, but it feels great to come out on top.”
The pitchers duel came to a close when Troy Peltz started off the top of the 10th with a leadoff single. Evasco laid down a bunt, and Joey Senstock singled into deep right field to score Peltz, giving the Spartans a 3-2 advantage.
“The energy got to me, all the emotions were getting to me but it also made me realize we had three more outs to go,” Senstock said.
Shortridge collected 3 quick outs in the bottom of the 10th, and the dog-fight was over, leaving Lincoln East to the dog pile at 10:23pm. The win was special for Coach Lanik, who collected his 100th win as head coach for Lincoln East.
“It just puts everything into perspective,” Lanik said. “All those hours we spent in the weight room and we spent taking ground balls. It all came together on the big stage. I just feel blessed to be at East and to coach these guys.”