LINCOLN — Brody Sintek and his fellow seniors on the Fremont Bergan baseball team had a hectic Saturday, but none of them were complaining.
Sintek pitched six strong innings to help the Knights defeat Gretna 5-3 in the opening round of the Class A state baseball tournament at Sherman Field. Sintek and his teammates then hustled back for the graduation ceremonies at Fremont High School and Bergan.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Sintek, who allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while earning the victory. “I think every single senior’s first and foremost goal is to win the state tournament. I think graduation was secondary on our minds. It was a pretty fulfilling day and we can look back on it when we’re older about what we accomplished. A few of us wanted to walk through (the graduation ceremony) with our baseball pants on, but I don’t know if my mom would’ve been too happy with that.”
Sintek struck out six as the Knights picked up their first-ever state tournament win. Sophomore Brady Benson struck out two in a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
“Brody had great stuff all day,” Bergan coach Jeff Hayden said. “He made some big pitches when he had to.”
While it was Bergan’s inaugural win at state, Sintek wasn’t a stranger to the postseason stage. He started Bergan’s opener at Werner Park during the 2017 state tournament.
“The last time we made state, it was more of a (surprise) to make it,” he said. “This time we hosted districts and we were kind of expected to make it. I think that definitely helped us a bit.”
The Knights jumped on Gretna starter and Nebraska baseball recruit Quinn Mason for an unearned run in the first. With one out, Dillon Dix reached on an error. Austin Callahan singled before Eli Herink walked to load the bases. Sintek’s ground out scored Dix to put Bergan ahead for good.
“We knew we were going up against a great pitcher on the other side so getting up 1-0 early was definitely a big help,” Sintek said.
The Knights got another run in the third. Dix and Callahan led off with walks before Herink’s RBI single made it 2-0. Herink’s hit finished the day for Mason.
“His arm wasn’t feeling very good today,” Gretna coach Jake Wolf said. “He missed a few starts this year and we didn’t want to risk injury.”
Bergan added three runs in the fifth. With one out, Callahan singled before moving to third on Herink’s double. An error, Mitchell Glause’s RBI single, a sacrifice fly by Donnie Mueller and Brennan Callahan’s run-scoring single made it 5-0.
The Dragons got two in the bottom of the fifth with the help of singles by Zach Devine, Bryce Grimm and Caden Opfer, but Sintek averted further damage by getting Mason to ground out to second baseman Dawson Glause.
“My fastball was really, really on,” said Sintek, a Wayne State College recruit. “I had some good movement and I had good (velocity). Luckily, in the first few innings I got some critical strikeouts with it.”
He also got a key strikeout on the last batter he faced. An error helped the Dragons close to 5-3 in the sixth, but Sintek struck out Brian Jeary with a runner at second. Benson then closed it out the next inning.
Herink and Austin Callahan had two hits apiece while Brennan Callahan, Mitchell Glause and Jackson Gilfry had one each.
“We’re the first Bergan team with a (state) win,” Hayden said. “Now we want to be the first with multiple victories.”
In other games Saturday, top-seeded Elkhorn South beat eighth-seeded Kearney 4-3 and fourth-seeded Millard South beat No. 5 Grand Island 2-1. Rain postponed the game between No. 2 Millard West and Creighton Prep to Monday. West, however, downed Prep 1-0 in nine innings. The postponement pushed the semifinals to Tuesday. Bergan will face Millard West at 7 p.m. at Haymarket Park.
“We wanted to play right away (Monday) so we’re a little disappointed we have to wait another day, but it is what it is,” Sintek said. “We’ll get to play under the lights at Haymarket and that will definitely be memorable for us.”