Many of those involved with Woodward-Granger baseball likely had the same feeling when they saw the postseason brackets when they were originally posted: The Hawks would likely win their first two of three possible games at home and would then have to deal with Van Meter in the 1A District 12 finals.
That is exactly what transpired, and Van Meter (32-8) proved as good as advertised, posting a 13-0 win in five innings on July 20.
Junior ace Brandon Brittain had thrown just one-third of an inning for Van Meter against W-G (17-13) in their two regular season meetings, which the teams split. He was dominant Saturday, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and not walking a batter.
Free passes and pitches that plunked batters doomed the Hawks, as W-G hurlers combined to walk six Bulldogs and hit three others, with eight of those nine gifts turned into runs by timely hitting and a smattering of Hawk errors.
Van Meter scored twice in the top of the first and once in the second before scoring four runs in the third for a 7-0 lead. The margin grew to 8-0 after a run crossed the dish in the fourth, with a five-run fifth setting the stage for an early ending.
Ben Flaherty had a single, a double and three RBIs for Van Meter, with Brittain driving in two runs with a single and a double while Logan Crawford and Jacob Eslick recorded two singles apiece.
Race Brant and Mike Connor had the two base hits for the hosts.
Chris McConahay started and took the loss in two innings on the hill. He yielded five runs (four earned) on four hits, one walk and two hit batsmen with Dylan Garland walking two batters, hitting one and allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits in two frames. Teig Loge was charged with two runs on two walks while not recording an out, with Brand Aunspach surrendering a run on one walk and one hit in an inning on the bump. Garland tallied two strikeouts and Aunspach one.
McConahay, Loge, Andrew McCune and Tyler Wiedner all played their final games for the Hawks in the loss.
Thursday, July 18
GRANGER — W-G had advanced to the District 12 finale by finally pulling away from a pesky Earlham squad, 12-6 on July 18.
W-G led, 3-1, after one frame and scored once in the second for a 4-1 edge only to see Earlham counter with two runs to close to within 4-3. The Hawks added three runs in the fourth, but the Cardinals continued to stay within range by scoring twice to make the score 7-5.
A single tally in the fifth gave the Hawks — the visitors on the scoreboard — some breathing room, with four runs in the top of the seventh all but ending the drams. The Cardinals refused to go quietly and scored once in their final at-bat but had too far to go and could not complete the comeback.
Wiedner battler control issues throughout the game and issued eight walks while allowing eight hits. He surrendered six runs (five earned) while striking out six in the complete game victory.
McCune drove in five runs with two doubles and a single, with Brant adding a double and two singles and McConahay a double and a triple. McConahay had two RBIs and Wiedner two, with a single from Wiedner and two from Jake Smiley the other W-G hits.