SPIRIT LAKE - What appeared to be a blowout turned into a brief slugfest before Spirit Lake prevailed in a 17-6, five-inning victory over Emmetsburg on Tuesday.
The win advances the Indians (14-10) to Saturday's Class 2A District 2 semifinal against North Union (25-8). The Warriors defeated Sioux Central, 10-0, in six innings in the first district semifinal Tuesday. Saturday's winner advances to the substate game in Spencer next Tuesday. The district final game starts at 7 p.m. in Spirit Lake.
The Indians got out to a quick start with senior Reese Salmon opening with a two-out two run home run over the left field fence in the top of the first inning.
The Indians scored again with two outs in the second as Andrew Ites singled, stole second and scored on a single by Paul Brown. Spirit Lake extended its lead in the third inning as Nic Amudson and Salmon drew leadoff walks. A sacrifice bunt by Tony Eckart advanced the runners. One run scored as Nick Wetzler bunted. The throw home to the runner was high as all were safe. With runners at the corners, Emmetsburg tried to get Wetzler when he stole second base. The throw got past the Emmetsburg fielder as Salmon scored. Wetzler moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch as the Indians took a 6-0 lead.
Defensively, Spirit Lake starter Brandon Stoll and his teammates kept the E'Hawks from scoring the first three innings. Stoll had four strikeouts over the first two innings. The E'Hawks came up with back-to-back one-out singles in the third inning. But Jake Jackson hit a grounder to second as the Indians got the force at second base. Jackson was then thrown out trying to steal second.
The Indians' offense kicked into high gear in the top of the fourth while also taking advantage of E'Hawk mistakes. Andrew Ites drew a leadoff walk and went to second when Emmetsburg catcher Jackson tried to pick him off at first base and the throw went awry. He went to third when Brown singled and scored on a wild pitch. Stoll followed with a single and a walk to Amudson loaded the bases. With one-out, Eckart drew a walk to bring in a run and Wetzler came up with a two-RBI single. A single by Nile Skogerboe scored another run and a couple wild pitches scored two more. Brown hit a two-out RBI single to complete the eight-run inning, which had five Indian hits and two E'Hawk errors.
With a comfortable 14-0 lead, Brown took the mound in relief of Stoll, but struggled. The E'Hawks rallied back with four hits plus a Spirit Lake error to score six runs.
Spirit Lake answered with three runs in the top of the fifth. Salmon drew a on-out walk, Eckart was hit by a pitch and Wetzler walked to load the bases. Skogerboe hit a grounder to the Emmetsburg third baseman, who stepped on the bag for the force, but the throw was late to first for the double play as one run scored. Cole Thate then followed with an RBI single to score Wetzler and Skogerboe scored on a passed ball.
Emmetsburg's Taylor Wegner got a leadoff double off Brown, but Salmon entered to close the game. He got Jacob Kibbie to pop up and struck out Zach Anderson before giving up a walk to No. 9 batter Aaron Bird. But then he struck out Dillon VanOosbree to end the game.
Stoll earned the win. The Indians finished with 10 hitswith Brown going 3-3 with two RBIs. Stoll, Salmon, Eckart, Wetzler, Skogerboe, Thate and Ites each had one hit.