Strong pitching, stout defense and an offensive onslaught lifted A-D-M to an 11-1, five-inning victory over Nevada in the Class 3A district championship on Monday.
It’s becoming something of an annual, late-July tradition for the Tigers, who won their fourth consecutive district title. They were to play for their third consecutive state tournament berth at Boone on Wednesday.
"This was the game we had been looking for," said first-year head coach Jason Book, whose team improved to 29-9 with the victory. "At this point we just have to keep it going, stay hot and show up with that good intensity. We haven’t put a team away like that yet this year. It was good to see."
Kyle Herrick cruised on the mound for the Tigers and improved to 8-3 on the season. He pitched to contact, counting on a strong defense to back him up, and allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings. He retired the side in the third on just five pitches, and got a 6-4-4 double play to end the fifth.
"Kyle was focused. He was ready and he knew this was going to be his game," Book said.
Strong pitching has been a constant for the Tigers this season. A-D-M entered the game with a team ERA of 2.90 and was eighth in the state among all classes with 287 strikeouts.
Herrick also benefited from a flood of run support. The Tigers scored in every inning and batted around in the first. They drove Nevada starter Colynn Black from the mound after he surrendered eight hits through the first 1 2/3 innings.
A-D-M scored three in the first, and tacked on three more in the second when Dylan Nelson Logan Essy swatted RBI singles, and Nelson scored on a passed ball.
Jackson VerWoert singled and scored on a hit by Grant Goeden in the third, the Tigers scored two run in the fourth with the aid of a balk, and Essy delivered the final blow in the fifth, plating two runs on a hard liner to the left-center field gap that rolled all the way to the fence.
The team pounded out 13 hits, recording a double-digit output for the third straight game. The team is hitting .389 (35-for-90) over that span.
"Our staple all year is pitching and defense," Book said. "We just have to continue to hit. Fortunately, we’ve gotten hot at the right time and we just have to keep that going all the way through."
Essy was 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Nelson was 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored, and Jordan Grove was 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Nelson struck out 12 and allowed just two hits and one walk in an 8-0 first-round victory over Perry on July 19.
The Tigers scored four runs in the second inning and never looked back. Goeden had an RBI single, and two batters later, Grove delivered laced a bases-clearing double that sailed over the center fielder’s head.
Chase Eddie had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Essy, Ethan Herron and VerWoert drove in runs in the seventh.