With Grand Island and Starpoint tied 3-3 entering the seventh inning, Vikings pitcher Manny Montes, in for relief of starter Josh Barrett, took aim and twirled toward third base in an attempt to pick off the go-ahead runner who was getting antsy on the corner.
But the third baseman misread the play and the throw sputtered into the bleachers while a pair of Spartan runners trotted home.
Three more runs followed as Starpoint batted around in its final at-bats.
The throwing error was one of five Viking miscues and the five-run seventh inning proved to be the difference as the sixth-seeded Spartans pulled off an upset of No. 2 Grand Island, 8-3, in a Section VI Class A-1 semifinal baseball game Thursday at Grand Island High School.
“We tried to do the little things,” Starpoint coach Tim Racey said. “We’ve always told the guys that the devil’s in the details — take care of the little things and the big picture will be a lot clearer. … This one was centered around our senior leadership who did just that.”
The Spartan seniors will play for the Class A-1 championship Saturday against Williamsville South because they did the little things, led by starting pitcher Mike Lane, who persevered through a pack of unrelenting hecklers and two separate Grand Island rallies for a complete game performance in which he allowed two runs on eight hits, striking out three.
When Grand Island tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning and again in the sixth, fellow seniors Alex O’Donnell, Brooks McKeown and Andrew Murchison bailed their pitcher out and came through with clutch hits to trigger the monster seventh inning.
“It wasn’t the most friendly environment out here at times,” Racey said, “and (Lane) didn’t show any emotion on the mound — as a pitcher should — and just went about his business, kept the ball down and kept them off balance.”