Coming into this week's District 4-A baseball tournament at Oneida's Bear Creek Sports Complex, the most anticipated matchup was a rematch of the Indians' late-season pair of games with Oakdale, both of which were won by Oneida by 6-1 scores.
But as quickly as the tournament got started, it appeared as thought that matchup might be on shaky ground. Wartburg upset Oakdale in the first game Monday, 9-5, to move the Eagles to the losers' bracket.
But Oakdale took care of business by defeating Oliver Springs on Tuesday, then avenged Monday's loss with a 14-4 win over Wartburg Wednesday, setting up a championship showdown with Oneida on Thursday.
A six-run second inning helped Oakdale to jump to a 10-0 lead three innings in. The Eagles then stopped a Wartburg rally in the fourth, and expanded the lead back to 10 in the sixth to earn the walk-off win on runs when Wartburg walked a batter on balls with the bases loaded.
Daniel Justes, Dylan Rice and Zach Smith — the top of the Wartburg order — all scored runs in the fourth for the Bulldogs, cutting the Oakdale lead to 10-3.
The Bulldogs added another run in the fifth, Justes's second of the night, to cut the gap to 10-4. But they could get no closer.
Justin Moore had four runs for Oakdale, Aaron Powers added three, and the hard-hitting Eagle lineup provided more than enough offense for the win.
The walk-off came when Landon Botkin walked in for a run scored in the bottom of the sixth. The game was called with bases loaded and only one out.
Thursday's championship game will begin at 5:30 p.m. A second game, if necessary, will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Oakdale will be charged with finding a way to score runs on Oneida's ace pitcher, junior Matt Williams, in the first game in order to give itself a shot at the championship.
The Eagles have faced Williams only once this season. Williams' ERA in district play is less than 0.1, but he did give up an earned run to Oakdale in the earlier meeting.
With a win tomorrow, Oneida will make school history with back-to-back district titles. The Indians won the tournament in 2013 in Wartburg. Prior to that, the Indians last won the district in 1982.
That year was also the last year that Oneida advanced to the substate. The Indians can do that in 2014 with a win against a District 3-A team in Monday's regional semifinals. Should they win tomorrow, Monday's game will be played at Bear Creek.