A two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth inning provided Oneida a bit of breathing room, but it was not until Wartburg's Zach Smith grounded out in the top of the seventh inning that the Indians could breathe a sigh of relief in a 9-4 win over the Bulldogs.
The win, which saw Oneida use a five-run second inning to take a lead that it would not relinquish, boosted the Indians into the District 4-A championship game, which will be played Thursday afternoon at Bear Creek.
The Indians remain unbeaten in District 4-A this season, and are just one win away from the first back-to-back district championships in school history.
Tuesday's win guarantees that whichever team Oneida faces Thursday — Oakdale or Wartburg; they will square off Wednesday in an elimination game — must defeat the Indians twice to prevent Oneida from taking the championship. And that team will face ace pitcher Matt Williams, who has a 0.0 ERA in district play.
First pitch of Thursday's game is set for 5:30 p.m. If a second game is necessary, it will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday's win also guarantees the Indians a spot in Monday's regional semifinals — a game that could be played at Bear Creek if Oneida wins on Thursday.
Next week's regional championship will be played at Bear Creek regardless of whether Oneida makes an appearance.
In Tuesday's game, Caleb Lee earned his sixth win of the season. The Tennessee Temple signee saw Wartburg batters display resiliency, and three of the Bulldogs' four runs scored on wild pitches.
But Lee also frustrated the 'Dogs, striking out a season-high 11 batters.
At the plate, Lee was two-of-four with an RBI and a run scored.
Cole West was two-of-three with two RBIs and a run scored, while Tanner Sexton was two of three with an RBI. Colby Jeffers was two-for-four with an RBI, while Jordan Terry continued his consistent tournament play at the bottom of the order, finishing two-of-two with an RBI and a run scored.
Oneida scored a run in the bottom of the first on a Sexton base-hit to take a 1-0 lead, but Wartburg bounced back in the top of the second with runs by Adam Kilby and Jonah Moore to go up 2-1.
The Indians took charge in the bottom half, with Terry's RBI double scoring Cage West, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Lukas Phillips and Jeffers. By the time Wartburg coach Terry Coker opted for a pitching change, bringing in Austin Seiber, Oneida had scored five runs to grab a 6-2 lead.
That's the way things stayed until the top of the fifth inning, with Seiber allowing only one hit in nine at-bats. In the top of the fifth, Wartburg added a couple of runs, with Daniel Justes scoring on a wild pitch and Smith scoring Dylan Rice on an RBI single.
The bottom of the inning started the same way the previous two innings had gone, with Seiber ringing up two Oneida batters on strike-outs.
But the Indians began a two-out rally with a Matt Williams walk and a base hit by Terry. That set the stage for Cole West's two-run double, and Lee followed with an RBI triple to push the lead to 9-4, where it would stay until the end of the night.
Lee retired the last five Wartburg batters, and eight of nine overall after the Bulldogs had pulled to within 6-4 — with five of those batters going down on strikes.
Tuesday's win was the 100th career win for Oneida coach Shawn West, who is in his seventh season. West was named District 4-A's coach of the year by his peers.