With a dash of late-game heroics, the Class 2A fifth-ranked Van Meter Bulldogs took home the win over Gilbert in 3-1 fashion Wednesday night in Van Meter.
It marked the fifth time Van Meter went up a class to take on an opponent and the win over Class 3A’s sixth-ranked Gilbert meant the third win for the Bulldogs over a Class 3A team.
Without a doubt, the Bulldogs certainly had to earn the win as the visiting Tigers muted the Van Meter bats to just one hit through five innings of play. All the while, Gilbert was clinging to a 1-0 lead they acquired in the very first inning. Van Meter sophomore Zach Pleggenkuhle was a big spark for the Bulldog offense beginning with his first of two hits that stood as the team’s only hit through the first five innings. Then the sophomore standout went back to it delivering his 34th hit of the season to the outfield grass to kick off the bottom of the sixth inning as he recorded his sixth double of the season.
That would spark a five-hit inning for Van Meter that continued on with Brett Berg equalizing the game at 1-1 driving in his 40th RBI of the season.
“Their pitching had been putting us off balance all game long so my thought was to stay back, keep my hands in, and not try and do too much with the ball,” said Berg about his RBI at-bat following the win. “It was a great start by Zach and I just wanted to continue it.”
The hit train would continue on for sure as Spencer Lamb delivered on a single which set up sophomore star Jacob Blomgren to acquire his team-leading 43rd RBI of the season with a single to the outfield. That bumped up the Bulldog lead 2-1 before some fancy footwork on the basepaths forced the Gilbert pitcher to step off and make an errant throw to home as the Bulldogs picked up their third run of the game on the error.
From then on it was all about preserving the game for the win and out of the bullpen, junior Cody Coffman did just that allowing just one run through 13 innings pitched to secure the win. As for the one who kicked off the game on the mound, freshman Ganon Archer kept the Bulldogs right in a defensive battle by allowing just one run and three hits through six innings of work, all while delivering four strikeouts.
The win for the Bulldogs marked their 27th victory of the 2019 campaign and it showed the full power of resiliency that Van Meter employs each and every game.
“This team doesn’t view each other as sophomores, freshman, or seniors, but rather just one big group of guys with one common goal,” began Brett Berg. “Tonight we faced a lot of adversity but we knew we just had to keep our heads down and wait for our time to strike. We didn’t get down on ourselves and we trusted in ourselves and that’s what earned us the win tonight.”
In what was the final regular-season home game, the Bulldogs sent the fans home happy and the players were able to reflect on what has been another conference championship season.
“It’s been an amazing season so far,” said Berg. “We’ve had some troubles like any team goes through and no matter who left or who came into the team everyone has bought into playing as a team. Spencer has been a great leader for us but all these guys act like leaders which is what makes this team so fun.”
Next up for the Bulldogs will be the regular-season finale as they take on their sixth Class 3A opponent as the travel to ADM to battle the Tigers tonight. First pitch from Tiger Field will get the game rolling at 7:30 p.m