LEMARS-Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley came back from a 3-1 deficit and used Jackson Mulder out of the bullpen to stall a late LeMars rally for a 7-6 Class 3A Sub-state 1 District 2 baseball tournament victory Monday, July 17.
After a scoreless first inning, the Bulldogs got on the board with one run in the bottom of the second with two doubles, both coming with two outs. The Nighthawks had a quick response, tying the game with one run in the top of the third. Dylan Harman led off the inning with a hard chopper to first base that he beat out for an infield single. Shane Solberg followed that up with a single of his own to put runners on second and first with no outs.
The situation quickly turned as a strikeout looking and a fly out to left field resulted in two quick outs, but a walk and a wild pitch allowed Harman to score the first run of the contest for the Nighthawks and tie the game at 1. The Bulldogs, however, did not take long to respond, scoring single runs in the bottom of the third and bottom of the fourth to claim a 3-1 lead. Those runs were scored on a sacrifice fly ball and a fielder’s choice play.
But Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley stayed resilient and had its biggest scoring inning with three runs in the fifth. Solberg led off the frame with a slow roller to shortstop but Solberg’s speed resulted in an infield single. That was followed by Mulder with a hard line drive single into left center field and Mitchell Diekevers with a hard ground ball single past a diving LeMars first baseman, allowing Solberg to score ahead of a throw from the right fielder.
Meanwhile on the throw, Mulder and Diekevers moved to second and third with still only one out. Brett Moser kept the rally going with a hard ground ball single through the hole between third base and shortstop, allowing Mulder to score the inning’s second run and Diekevers to trot over to third base. Following a walk and two-straight swinging strikeouts, Diekevers came around to score on a bases-loaded walk by Trey Huyser.
-“Once we get our first person on, I feel like our other hitters just gain a little bit of confidence and they start hitting too,” Mulder noted about the rally. “It (the momentum) just carries throughout the team once we start hitting.”
After LeMars was held scoreless in the bottom of the fifth, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley tacked on an insurance run in the top of the sixth. With one out, the Nighthawks got a walk, a steal and a walk to put runners on first and second before Moser ripped a ground ball single through the hole between second and the shortstop to allow Mulder to score the inning’s lone run.
After LeMars was held scoreless in the bottom half of the sixth, Dylan Van Der Brink quickly gave the Nighthawks more insurance with a leadoff solo home run that sailed over the left field wall.
“I was just waiting on a fastball that first pitch. I got it and it resulted in a home run,” Van Der Brink said with a wide smile.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley added to that run as Husyer drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a fielder’s choice play. Mulder promptly sent him home on a double that bounced off the left center field wall to make the score 7-3 before LeMars made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh.
The Bulldogs led off the inning with two-straight singles, before a two-run double was hit off the right-center field wall. Following a meeting on the mound by Nighthawks’ coach Doug Bundy and the infield, the Bulldogs scored on a wild pitch and got another double off the right center field wall to put runners on second and third with only one out.
Bundy then made the move to bring Mulder out of the bullpen. Mulder quickly shut the door with a hard lineout to center field and a soft fly ball to right field.
“I just had to go out there and throw some strikes. I had to make sure I kept the ball low so they couldn’t get a hold of it,” Mulder said.
He also noted that being the team’s closer is one of his roles for Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley. Mulder has thrown 18-2/3 innings out of the pen with a 2.63 ERA, 10 strikeouts and an opponents’ batting average against of .202.
“I’m used to starting the game at shortstop and, in about the sixth or seventh inning, I’ll come in and just close it out slowly,” he said.
The starting pitcher for this contest was Diekevers and he threw six and one-third innings with nine hits, six runs of which all six were earned, no walks and four strikeouts. Bundy noted that be may have left Diekevers in a little too long, but he wanted to give his starter an opportunity to finish out the game.
“I maybe left him in too long, but Mitchell is a gamer. He’s a gamer, so I wanted to give him a chance to finish it,” Bundy said. “I also knew Jackson (Mulder) could come in and shut it down, and he did. He (Mulder) and Zach (Noble) have both been hitting the strike zone. They both haven’t had a lot of walks in the last week of the season and that’s what it takes.”
Final offensive numbers had Solberg with two hits and a run scored. Mulder had two hits, with one hit being a double, one run and one walk. Diekevers had two hits, one RBI and a walk. Moser had one hit, one walk and one RBI. Van Der Brink’s lone hit was a solo home run. Harman had one hit and one run. Noble had the final hit.
“They had good at-bats, they settled in (at the plate), took good cuts and they had confidence in themselves. We have certainly improved since the beginning of the year and I can’t be prouder of the boys,” Bundy said.
This will be the first time in more than five years the Nighthawks have made the sub-state game and they are excited to get to play eighth-ranked Sioux City Heelan for a shot at a state berth.
“It feels amazing. There hasn’t been a (Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley baseball) team that has made it to the sub-state game in the last five to six years. We’re pretty proud to do it this year,” Van Der Brink said.
In order to get that state berth, the strategy will be a familiar and simple one.
“Just play smart baseball and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Bundy said. “We’re having fun, the coaches are having a blast and we’ll hope to just keep it going. We have nothing to lose and the pressure is going to be on who we play.”
Nighthawks’ season comes to an end in extras
Sioux City Heelan0-0-0-0-0-0-0-11
LEMARS-Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley ace Zach Noble went toe-to-toe with Class 3A eighth-ranked Sioux City Heelan pitcher TJ Chamberlain Wednesday, July 19. But following a one-hour delay due to lightning, the Crusaders got a one-run single in the bottom of the eighth to end the Nighthawks’ 2017 season in a 1-0 defeat in the Class 3A Sub-state 1 game.
Both teams went scoreless for five and two-thirds innings before a flash of lightning postponed the game from 8 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m. However, both teams had their share of chances to score before the delay. In the top of the first inning, Nighthawk Shane Solberg got on base with an infield single to short stop. He promptly stole second base. Following a flyout to center field, there was another flyout to left field that was deep enough to send Solberg to third base with two out. But a swinging strikeout ended the inning.
In the top of the second with two out, Dylan Van Der Brink hit a hard shot off the center field wall, but Sioux City Heelan got the ball back into the infield quickly to hold Van Der Brink to a long single. Van Der Brink quickly moved to second base on a single by Eric Salazar, but a flyout to right field ended the inning.
The Crusaders then had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second. The frame began with a single and a fielder’s choice play from shortstop to second base, but the Nighthawks’ attempt at a double play failed as the throw from second base to first was wide. That allowed Matt Nelson to advance to second with one out. Nelson then moved to third base on a wild pitch, before a foul popup to second base ended the threat.
Sioux City Heelan threatened again in the bottom of the third. After an error by Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley’s shortstop and a flyout to right field, a walk put runners on first and second with one out. But Noble forced the Crusaders into two-straight flyouts to end another Heelan threat.
The Crusaders then had one more threat before lightning came. With one out, Matthew Kerian walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. Sioux City Heelan then worked another walk before coach Doug Bundy had a short meeting on the mound with Noble and his infielders. The talk worked as Noble got a swinging strikeout and a fly ball to center field.
The Nighthawks then got two quick outs before lightning came and delayed play for about an hour and a half. After the delay was over, Sioux City Heelan got the final out in the top of the sixth on a 6-3 groundout.
With Noble not pitching for an hour and a half, most coaches would have had a decision to make but Bundy said the decision was an easy one as Noble came out to throw the sixth inning.
“I didn’t think too much. He’s (Noble) done it for us all year and he did it for us tonight,” Bundy said.
The top of the sixth began with a walk, a meeting on the mound by Bundy and an infield single to the second baseman, Noble got out of the jam with a flyout to center field, a fielder’s choice and a groundout to second.
Neither team was able to threaten again until the bottom of the seventh inning and the Crusaders only needed one run to win it. Noble was once again on the mound and got one out before two hit batters put runners on first and second. Noble ended the threat with a swinging strikeout and a fly ball to center field which forced an extra inning.
Unfortunately, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley went down in order in the top of the eighth to give Sioux City Heelan another opportunity to walk it off in the bottom of the eighth. The frame began with two-straight throwing errors at third base before Bundy made the move for Jackson Mulder out of the bullpen. But Tom Schiltz of the Crusaders hit a hard liner that just fell on the fair side of the left field line, allowing the game-winning run to score from second base.
Bundy noted that not being able to get a key at-bat with runners on was an issue, but gave credit to Sioux City Heelan for being the better team. He felt the Nighthawks had a good year none-the-less, ending the 2017 season with an 18-9 overall record.
“We didn’t get the big hit, but that’s baseball. We had a great year and a great end to the season the last couple of weeks. I’m not disappointed at all. Our kids did an outstanding job,” Bundy said.
Final offensive totals had Solberg with one hit and one steal. Mitchell Diekevers had one hit, Noble had one hit, Van Der Brink had one hit and Salazar had the final hit. Noble threw seven innings with one hit, one run that was unearned, four walks and five strikeouts. Mulder gave up one hit in relief.