On to substate
Good pitching, solid defense and just enough runs to win have been the staple of Estherville Lincoln Central baseball the past few seasons.
Those attributes shown brightly in the Midgets’ 5-3 Class 2A District final win over a good West Lyon team.
Trey Jacobson and Evan Olesen combined to give up just two hits to a team hitting .350 this season.
Meanwhile ELC’s aggressiveness on the base paths bore fruit, as four of the Midgets’ runs were unearned.
ELC (22-6) advances to Tuesday’s 2A Substate game against Cherokee (12-13). The Braves won 6-2 over Sioux Center in another district final.
In Saturday’s district final against West Lyon, Jacobson started the night with a strikeout, and then gave up two walks before notching two more strikeouts in the fist inning.
In the bottom of the first, Jacobson hit a grounder up the middle, but the West Lyon shortstop overthrew first base as the ELC junior took second base. Jacob Bosch then pushed a perfect bunt to the left side of the pitcher for an infield single that sent Jacobson to third. Briar Rowley followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to bring home the first run.
Olesen then singled and when West Lyon went to throw to third base, the ball squirted into the dugout. With Noah Heifner already past third base, he went home on the dead ball and ELC led 2-0.
In the top of the second, the ELC outfield got a workout as West Lyon batters hit one fly ball to each fielder-the toughest was a running catch by left fielder Seth Loock to start the inning with the next one going to Rowley in center and the third to Lucas Gardner in right field.
West Lyon took advantage of two leadoff walks given up by Jacobson to start the third inning. After getting a force out at second, West Lyon’s big bat Jaden Snyder came to the plate. The left-handed batter worked the count before hitting a shot to the opposite field-over the left-field fence-for a three-run home run.
ELC answered right back. Bosch singled through the left side of the infield. Courtesy runner Heifner was forced out when Rowley hit a grounder back to the pitcher. However, Olesen again came up with a single to left. This time another throw to the infield bounced ELC’s way, as the catcher was unable to make a grab and Rowley came home. Olesen went to third on the play. Lucas Gardner then delivered a hard shot to the right side of the filed that the West Lyon second baseman was unable to knock down on the bounce, scoring Olesen and giving ELC back a 4-3 lead.
Defensively, Jacobson had settled down after the home run, striking out four of the next five batters before giving up a leadoff single to No. 9 batter Korbyn Gramstad in the top of the fifth.
ELC coach Lee Evans decided that was time to make a change.
“Our pitchers were outstanding and kept their hitters off-balance,” Evans said. “Trey was winded and on this hot day, he gave us everything he had. It was time to give them a different look.”
Olesen took over and promptly picked off the runner at first base. After a groundout, Olesen gave up a walk, but then struck out Snyder to end the inning. The Wildcats would get just one base runner the final two innings, a two-out ELC error in the sixth.
ELC manufactured an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Bennett Loock led off with a single, moved to second on Trevor Friesner’s sacrifice bunt and to third when Blake Miller grounded out to second base. Brian Egeland stepped in to pinch hit for Seth Loock and delivered an RBI single up the middle.
“Being up two runs is better than one and it takes more pressure off your pitchers,” said Evans. “Brian’s got a good bat and he came up big for us earlier this year with a walk-off hit against Humboldt.”
ELC finished with eight hits, as Bosch and Olesen each were 2-3 while Egeland was 1-1, Seth Loock and Rowley each were 1-2 and Bennett Loock was 1-3.
On the mound, Jacobson gave up three earned runs on two hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. Olesen finished with four strikeouts while giving up one walk.