Some people say it’s hard to beat a team twice. Some people say it’s near impossible to beat the same team twice on their home field.
Whoever said any of that sure didn’t tell the ADM baseball team as evident by their 3-1 victory in the Class 3A District 16 title game against Dallas Center-Grimes Monday, July 22. All was pointing in the direction of a Mustang win but the visiting Tigers tapped into the power that earned them the win in their first encounter of the season back on June 6, putting them just one win shy of the state tournament.
“One thing I asked the team was to put everything they had into this game,” began Tiger head coach Jason Book. “I told them that when we start playing good baseball, we’re nearly impossible to beat. We stuck to the simple things and we did the simple things well.”
It certainly wasn’t easy, but somehow the Tigers produced their first two game winning season over the Mustangs since the 2013 campaign. In the second stanza, the Tigers belted out seven hits highlighted by the senior leadership in Joe Finnegan and Spencer Collins who combined to hit 5-for-6 with one RBI. On the flip side, junior hurler Zach Fuller dominated on the mound, limiting a Mustang team who averaged five runs per game entering Monday to just one all game long.
It began as quite the defensive dual between the two teams complete with no runs and just seven combined hits through three innings of play. Then came the fourth inning where the host Mustangs led off the scoring efforts by plating what would be their only run of the game on a ringing RBI double. A big focal for the Tigers all season has been answering the offensive call set by their opponents. Monday night in Dallas Center, ADM answered DC-G’s one-run fourth with a three-run fifth inning of their own. Jaxson Millsap kicked off the inning with his 19th hit of the season.
A big hallmark of ADM wins this season has been capitalizing on opposing errors and Monday night, the fifth inning held a pair of DC-G errors which the Tigers promptly turned into bases runners and runs crossing the plate. That was an integral part of the eventual win for the Tigers which senior leader Joe Finnegan highlighted following the win.
“We’ve had some big wins this season by capitalizing on our opponents’ mistakes,” began Finnegan. Tonight we didn’t give DC-G a single inch and jumped on their mistakes and I think that threw them off their game so much that they couldn’t recover.”
Finnegan himself made the most of mistakes thrown by DC-G pitching going 3-for-4 on the night and coming through in the clutch, batting a perfect 1.000 with runners in scoring position. That included his seventh RBI of the season which helped the Tigers strike for three runs in the inning, thus giving ADM a 3-1 lead heading into the sixth inning.
On the mound, Zach Fuller went the distance tossing seven full innings of work on 102 pitches thrown. Fuller kept a potent Mustang attack off-balance all night long with the help of a season-best nine strikeouts. Fullers’ performance began early in the counts as over half of his pitches to start off at-bats were strikes. That then continued on to muting the Mustang bats to a mere six hits the entire contest.
“I really felt good hitting my spots tonight and I feel that was the best part about my game tonight,” said Fuller himself. “My curveball was really working too which made my fastball placement stand out much more.”
Fuller then proceeded his stranglehold on the DC-G offense, limiting the Mustangs to just two extra-base hits all game long, an impressive feat considering the fact that the Mustangs blasted at least one home run in three out of their five prior contests. Zach’s performance was inspiring to say the least and despite his effectiveness with strikes during the game, it was placement elsewhere that may have had a big hand according to head coach Jason Book.
“Zach was absolutely huge for us tonight,” said Book. “It was evident that he liked to toss a few balls every batter to throw them off but the biggest thing that helped him out was sticking to his game plan. We had a strategy heading into the game and I just trusted Jaxson behind the plate and Zach on the mound and when those two are on, they’re really difficult to beat.”
Overall the win not only marked a second win over longtime rival DC-G but it also highlighted the recent success had by the Tigers, something seniors like Joe Finnegan are very pleased with.
“There are no words that could do this justice,” began Finnegan. “So many times this year we just couldn’t get the big hits to bring guys home and to see those runs come in was amazing.”
While the Tigers will soak up the win for a little bit longer, they won’t have too much longer to celebrate as they will take on the Sub-State 8 title game Wednesday, July 24. They will travel to Harlan where they will battle the Sub-State’s top team in the Harlan Cyclones. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.