This season, the Van Meter baseball team has some new things they are breaking in. They have a new field, and they played their first game their recently on June 10, and they have a new coach in Mike Kennedy.
After making it to the second round of the state tournament a year ago, the Van Meter baseball team has picked up in similar fashion this season. The Bulldogs have just one loss on the season, and for the most part, have been crushing the competition.
So far, they have one seven games by 10 runs or more, recently defeating Earlham on the road by a score of 17-1 on June 11 and then beating Guthrie Center 15-0 on June 12.
"Most of it is, they’ve been playing baseball for so long and they’ve been playing baseball together," Kennedy said. "I’m brand new; it’s my first year coaching here… I can’t attribute their success to me. They’ve put in the time, their parents have put in the time for years and years to get them to the level their at so, yeah, they know how to play the game."
In need of a tougher test, the Bulldogs matched up against Winterset on June 14 in their second home game on their new field this season. Winterset is a Class 3A team and a member of the Raccoon River Conference.
Kyle Schmitt, a sophomore who started the game on the mound and pitched seven innings for the Bulldogs, scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning on an RBI single by Zach Forret, lifting the Bulldogs to a 4-3 win over the Huskies.
Before that, however, the Bulldogs found themselves in trouble in the top half of the seventh and Schmitt helped them get out of the jam. The Huskies had the bases loaded and no one out with the game tied 3-3 before Schmitt and the Bulldogs retired the next three batters and kept the tie game intact.
"Kyle Schmitt executed a lot of pitches and we made every play behind him," Kennedy said. "Jake Koch made an outstanding catch out in left field, made a perfect throw, we backed up the throw, so we kind of did all the little things right in the top of the seventh and executed when we had to execute a pressure situation."
Schmitt ended the game with eight strikeouts while giving up five hits and three runs (two earned runs). He currently leads the team’s pitching staff, toting a 4-0 record with a solid 1.12 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting just .110 against him this season.
On Monday, the Bulldogs kept rolling along with a 6-1 win over Des Moines Christian in Van Meter.