Warrior Baseball Defeats Homer Center 7-3; Earns spot in D6 Title Game

The West Branch Warrior Baseball team clinched a spot in the state playoffs.
Luke Liptak takes a swing at a pitch in the Warrior victory.
Luke Liptak takes a swing at a pitch in the Warrior victory.
Image/Graphics by Gregory Ricupero Sports Network

On Thursday, May 23, West Branch traveled to Homer Center to take on the second-seeded Wildcats.

The Warriors started hot, beginning the game with a drawn walk from Isaac Tiracorda, followed by an RBI single by Lukas Colton, giving the Warriors an early 1-0 lead. Luke Liptak then added a single of his own. That marked the end of the production by the Warriors in the top of the first inning.

Luke Liptak started on the mound for the Warriors. Heading into the game, he boasted a 10-0 record with a 1.32 ERA for the year. In the bottom of the first inning, Luke Liptak excelled, shutting down the Wildcats 1-2-3. The Warriors struggled to get anything going in the top of the second, going 3 up, 3 down.

The Warriors began the bottom half of the second inning slowly, with a hit-by-pitch, a single, and two RBI singles following that. However, once the Warriors found their stride, they were unstoppable. Liptak struck out the next batter, and then Homer Center hit into a double play, ending the inning.

Zach McGonigal led off the inning for the Warriors with a single, but both teams’ bats remained silent for the remainder of the inning. In the top of the fourth, a single from Brody Rothrock and another from Tyler Wilson tied the game at 2-2. Liptak dominated the second half of the fourth inning, retiring three batters in a row.

Matt Eirich led off for the Warriors in the fifth inning. Eirich engaged in an eight-pitch at-bat, drawing a walk. A sacrifice bunt from Zach McGonigal advanced Eirich to second, and he was then driven in on a Tiracorda single. A single from Liptak later scored Tiracorda, giving the Warriors a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Homer Center scored a run, bringing the score to 4-3 going into the sixth inning. Neither team managed to score in the sixth inning, maintaining a close 4-3 game going into the seventh.

In the top of the seventh inning, Tiracorda singled to right, Colton walked, and Liptak advanced the runners to second and third. Then, a crucial double from Coby Kephart drove in both runners. An error from Homer Center allowed Kephart to score, extending West Branch’s lead to 7-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.

In the bottom of the seventh, Luke Liptak was dominant, retiring the Wildcats in order.

Reflecting on the game, Liptak stated, “That was the biggest game that many of us have ever been a part of, and it was rewarding to see all of our hard work pay off. I’ve never played in the state tournament, so I am going to enjoy the challenge.”

The Warriors will compete for the District XI championship on Wednesday, May 29, at Mount Aloysius College, with a 4:00 p.m. start time.

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