By Doug Brenneman, Golden Triangle News Service
It is important for a favored team not to let an underdog get confidence.
Iowa Mennonite School got the first batter of the baseball game on base with an error and two more subsequent batters against second-ranked and unbeaten Lisbon Tuesday in a Class 1A substate final at Dick Sojka Memorial Field in Washington, but the Lions kept them off the scoreboard, then banged out four consecutive hits to start the bottom of the first inning. All four Lion hitters would score for a 4-0 lead on the way to Lisbon?s 10-2 victory as the Lions will return to the state tournament.
?That?s how you want to set the tone,? Lisbon head coach Travis Bennett said. ?An underdog team can get under your skin a little bit if you give them a chance, but it was good to show right away that we were here to take care of business.?
While Lisbon returns to the state tourney, IMS played in a substate final for the second consecutive year.
?It?s huge for us to be in this game two years in a row,? IMS coach Danny Hershberger said. ?We improved our record from last year and I hope we continue to do that.?
IMS was 14-10 a year ago and lost to North Linn, 2-0, in the substate final. Both North Linn and Lisbon play in the Tri-Rivers Conference. Both will play at the state tournament for the second year in a row. Alburnett also plays in the Tri-Rivers. It lost Tuesday in a substate final to Don Bosco, 4-2.
IMS got off to a great start as lead-off batter Cole Ours? hustle helped him reach first base on an error. He was out on a fielder?s choice, but IMS got Trevor Leyden to third base and London Schrock on first before a strikeout ended the inning.
?We have done a great job of scoring in the first inning in the postseason, but we weren?t able to do that,? Hershberger said. ?We had a great opportunity. We wanted to put pressure on them right away and get on the board. We just couldn?t get the big hit.?
Lisbon starting pitcher Brett Givens minimized problems and kept an even keel. He struck out three with no walks and allowed three hits and an unearned run, which scored in the third inning, in his four innings of work.
Lisbon added two more runs in the second inning, two in the fourth and two in the fifth.
IMS got on the board in the third inning, but what could have been a big inning was cut short by a missed call by the umpire.
Noah Miller reached first base on an error. Ours and Leyden each followed with a hit to load the bases with no outs. Eli Ours put the ball in play and the second baseman fielded it, swiped at Leyden -- and missed, but the ump called an out -- as he ran to second then threw to first base for the second out. Miller scored on the play to make the score 6-1.
?It was a tough call that did not go our way,? Hershberger said. ?Obviously when you have the bases loaded with no outs, then you have one guy on base with two outs, it is a huge momentum swing. We felt like that was our chance to do something. Credit them for making the play.?
The postseason adds another umpire to the field to prevent missed calls but it happened anyway.
?In that situation you?d like to get more than one run,? Hershberger said. ?It?s difficult to handle, but that is the way it goes sometimes. We just have to play through it.?
IMS starting pitcher set the Lions down in order in the bottom of the third inning so more IMS runs in the top would have definitely changed the complexion of the game. IMS got a double from Jacob Boller in the fourth inning but left him stranded.
Lisbon?s Jake Jennett, who was 2 for 3, reached base in all four at-bats and scored three times, blasted a solo homerun to lead off the fourth inning. Lisbon added another run on a hit, two stolen bases and an error. IMS got out of the inning when Lisbon tried to score from third base on a wild pitch, but Isaiah Swantz hustled to retrieve the ball and IMS caught the Lisbon runner in a pickle for the third out.
Austin Krob came to the mound to start the fifth inning for Lisbon. After the first IMS batter reached on an error, Krob struck out the side. He set down all three sixth-inning batters with punchouts. He gave up a hit and a walk to start the seventh inning, but got the first and third outs with strikeouts. Krob struck out eight of the 12 batters he faced.
IMS? Blake Bontrager pitched all but the last four outs, which Trevor Leyden recorded. Bontrager gave up just three hits after the fateful first inning, but his team committed four errors.
Lisbon will take its 34-0 record to Des Moines for the state tournament.
?Our goal all year has been to get back,? Bennett said. ?It?s hard to believe there is just a possible three games left in the season.?
IMS added another run in the seventh inning as Boller led off with a single and Swantz followed with a walk. Cole Ours second hit of the night loaded the bases. Leyden hit into a fielder?s choice which scored Boller.
?All we ask of our guys is to compete until the end and we did that,? Hershberger said. ?It was a little bit too much to overcome but I?m proud of the guys.?
Bontrager gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out three in his 5 2/3 innings pitched.
?It took him a little bit to get settled into the game,? Hershberger said. ?He did a good job competing and getting the job done after a rough start. Our defense made some plays that was not characteristic of us. That allowed them to score a few runs. I thought Blake did a great job.?
Cole Ours, Reggie Borntrager and Isaiah Swantz are IMS seniors who played their last game Tuesday.
?Our seniors have been great leaders this year,? Hershberger said. ?We had a lot of young guys on the team and their leadership was important. They did a great job of being leaders vocally and on the field.?