For the first time since their 2003 championship season, the Van Meter baseball team has qualified for the state tournament in Des Moines.
The Bulldogs beat B-G-M 6-1 in the substate finals and will play St. Mary’s, Remsen in the first round of the state tournament at Principal Park on Saturday.
Brandon Brittain got the starting nod on the mound and gave up just one hit and one run in seven innings to pick up the win. On top of that he went 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and a run scored as well as being walked once.
"I thought he battled well," VM coach Eric Trudo said. "I didn’t think he quite had his best stuff tonight with coming back on a two-day rest even though it was a short outing against Woodward-Granger… He hasn’t done that turnaround in a long time and he just battled well. And then he got stronger as the game went along which he normally does."
The game was fairly close through five innings with the Bulldogs carrying a 3-1 lead going into the sixth inning where they piled on three more runs on just two hits. Jake Chevalier had a two-run single that got Logan Crawford and Ben Engstrand home.
"We stayed patient at the plate, we didn’t get anxious or anything like that," Trudo said. "We just went up there and had good at bats like we’ve been having all season long and made them pitch," Trudo said. "Their pitchers struggled to find the zone a little bit and we took advantage of that with some walks and that got things going. Anytime you can get free base runners that certainly aids your offense."
The Bulldogs were walked a total of 10 times in the game including four times in the sixth inning where they scored three runs.
The Bulldogs’ first state tournament game is on Saturday at Principal Park in Des Moines at 7 p.m. against St. Mary’s, Remsen.
On July 20 the Bulldogs took care of business in the district finals beating Woodward-Granger by a score of 13-0 in five innings. The Bulldogs scored 13 runs on just eight hits.
Crawford, Brittain and Jacob Eslick all had two RBIs apiece and Ben Flaherty had three. Jeremy Helmick scored three runs.
Brittain pitched five innings and gave up just two hits in the shutout performance. He struck out seven batters.
The Van Meter baseball team advanced to the district finals after an 8-2 win over Prairie Valley in Madrid on July 18. The Bulldogs got the win on just six hits and with only two players batting in runs and VM coach Eric Trudo called the win a "team win."
"We had all sorts of people getting on base and people scoring runs defensive plays being made so this was just a good team win," Trudo said.
The Warriors kept the game close being tied at one with the Bulldogs going into the bottom of the fourth, but a two-run fourth and a five-run fifth helped the Bulldogs run away with the game.
Ben Flaherty and Drake Doud were the first two batters of the fifth inning and both were hit by the pitch. Ben Engstrand was also hit by a pitch later in the inning.
In the five-run fifth inning VM only had one hit which was a two-RBI single by Jake Chevalier. Six VM players were walked in the fifth inning before Flaherty, who led off the fifth inning, struck out to end the inning with a seven-run lead.
Trudo said that the difference in the fifth inning was that they got hits with runners on base.
"We had runners on base earlier in the game and we just couldn’t get that hit with one or two outs so that always makes things happen," Trudo said. "We ran the bases exceptionally well tonight. We took advantage of some overthrows and some errors on their part and that’s one thing we’ve got to do and that’s one thing we’ve done all season."
Also with two RBIs in the game was the pitcher Logan Crawford who had a two-RBI double in the fourth inning. Crawford pitched five and one-third innings and gave up two runs on just three hits behind nine strikeouts before being relieved by Brandon Brittain with one out in the sixth inning.
Brittain struck out one batter in one and two-thirds innings and sealed the game for the Bulldogs. With the win the Bulldogs advanced to the district finals where they would play against Woodward-Granger in Marshalltown on July 20.