After committing five errors in four innings, Van Meter baseball was staring down an early postseason exit against Ogden on Tuesday, July 23. Instead of letting Ogden hand the team its fourth loss of the season, Van Meter flipped a switch and punched a ticket to the state tournament with a 5-3 win.
“We’ve really stepped up as a team,” Van Meter head coach Eben Baumhover said after the win. “A lot of guys come up with hits more often now and our pitchers just continue to get better.”
After struggling to get on base in the first four innings, Jack Pettit ripped a pitch for a single followed by Carter Durflinger single, ready to get a rally going in the top of the fifth. They were ready to come home as Anthony Potthoff nearly went yard but ultimately fell foul only for him to pop out to retire the inning.
It was another missed opportunity to get within reach of Ogden’s 3-1 lead being protected by ace Carter Church. But with Potthoff on the mound, Van Meter didn’t budge either.
Thanks to Potthoff pitching over the course of four innings with a strikeout per outing, Van Meter had another opportunity to make a move in the sixth inning.
“We relied on our young pitching. Anthony has been our bulldog the last two years and he’s gotten our tough starts. He gets tough, tough teams.” Baumhover said. “And he fought through, and he’s been able to handle that. He gave us five hard innings.”
Once Jacob Blomgren drove a line for a single, Tyler Haynes ran in to make it a 3-2 ball game. Blomgren found himself on second following an Ogden error, inching closer to Van Meter control. He ran in the next at-bat for the tying run, followed by two more thanks to a formula of a bunt, sacrifice fly, and another single to pad the final score for security.
After struggling to get on base early on, Van Meter closed the night with eight hits and two walks. Blomgren was the only player on either side with an extra-base hit, grabbing a triple and a double for two RBIs.
“To go against a big, tough right-hander like Church, we haven’t seen that in a good week and a half, it prepares you for what’s coming,” Baumhover said. “We’re going to run into a lot of number ones down the road. This was definitely something that’s going to help us.”
Blomgren said he agreed and that the team never lost its cool while sitting behind, staying patient to crack the code at the plate against Church who tossed nine strikeouts, closing in on 85 mph fastballs.
It wasn’t unfamiliar territory. The Ogden Bulldogs had already taken down the Van Meter Bulldogs once before, handing them their worst loss of the season 3-0 in a twin bill season opener.
After committing a season-high five errors, coming back from a two-run deficit to the team that handed Van Meter its largest loss of the season with a 3-0 shutout, the Bulldogs learned and proved just as much Tuesday.
Baumhover said Ogden deserves a lot of credit for coming out early with the heat, disrupting how his team can play but was proud of how they “weathered the storm” to overcome pressure as they had all season. Blomgren was even more confident after the game, ready to put the mistakes behind.
“I believe we’re a state championship team. We’ll continue to get better and that won’t happen again.”
The win will now be sending the Bulldogs to their third consecutive state tournament appearance and eight state tournament appearance in school history. The Bulldogs will now open up their run inside the Class 2A state tournament with a match-up against Substate eight champion Underwood on Monday, July 29. It will be the late game as the Bulldogs are set to square off against Underwood beginning with first pitch at 7 p.m. from Principal Park in Des Moines.