MANHATTAN — Chase Werth said his club needed to just stay on top of each other.
The dogpile that ensued on top of the Thomas More Prep-Marian senior at the end of the game isn’t exactly what he meant.
He’ll take it nonetheless.
Werth was more referring to when his club was trailing Wellsville, 2-1, long before his game-winning walk-off home run that gave TMP a 5-2 come-from-behind win, sending the Monarchs into Friday’s 3A semifinals at Tointon Family Stadium.
“I’m shaking,” Werth said, just minutes after his team clobbered him at home plate. “We were supposed to win that game and we all expected to win that game.
“But it was a close one,” he added. “Just coming out as the victor is so great.”
And it came “just as we drew it up,” TMP coach Dustin Washburn joked.
But it almost looked that way for the top-seeded Monarchs.
TMP rallied behind a complete-game gem for starter Cole Zimmerman (six hits, two earned runs, seven strikeouts, three walks). The senior threw 99 pitches, seven short of the maximum allowed.
“Just a great team effort,” Washburn said of the win. “Cole Zimmerman threw the heck out of it for us — absolutely gave us a chance to win.
“And we didn’t hit the panic button,” the coach added. “That’s the huge thing about this team. They don’t do that.”
TMP was leading 1-0 when Luke Ruder drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning. That quickly changed in the fourth when Wellsville freshman Jackson Showalter connected on a two-run triple with two outs against Zimmerman.
Werth said it wasn’t time to panic. The Monarchs (23-1) just needed the bats to come alive.
“We just all go on top of each other and needed to have more confidence,” Werth said. “Everything else we could fix.”
A little luck didn’t hurt either. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Adam Gottschalk hit a pop up with two outs that looked to be caught. But a drop at second base allowed Creighton Renz to score from third to tie the game. Later, it appeared Eston Brown had drove in the go-ahead, but failed to touch first base on a double attempt. The run was waived off and the game went tied to the seventh. Zimmerman allowed a single, but worked around in the seventh to set up TMP’s walk-off chance.
“They’ve been here. They understand that situation,“ Washburn said. “They don’t have a doubt, and there’s not a doubt in my mind.”
Trenton Mayo drew a walk to start the seventh, and Tate Garcia drove him to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Gavin Schumacher was hit by a pitch, Wellsville went to the pen.
Werth sent the second offering from junior Tanner Shalkoski screaming to the left field wall. It was the Monarchs’ fifth hit of the game, compared to the Eagles’ six.
“I felt it,” Werth said. “Coach told me right before if he throws a fastball to drive it. That’s what I tried to do.”
Werth was met at home plate with a short celebration, but soon TMP was all business again.
“We can enjoy this for three or four hours,” Washburn said. “We’re going to turn around and focus in on tomorrow.
“We’ve got two more games to win to finish this thing the way we want.”
TMP’s semifinal game against Riley County (20-2) is slated for 1:15 p.m. The winner advances to the 5:45 p.m. title game. Wellsville ended its season at 19-5. Riley County defeated Humboldt 5-4 in nine innings in the late game Thursday.