If you were on the lookout for a baseball game with a lot of offense, the Van Meter vs. Underwood match-up in round one of the state tournament was the game for you.
With nearly 20 combined hits and 21 combined runs, it was a game that had it all and one in which the Bulldogs walked away with a 14-7 win after six innings. From runs driven in by hit by pitch, walks, triples and singles, the game had what every offensive guru could want, but not necessarily what coaches would want.
“Honestly I didn’t like the back and forth type of game all night long,” began Bulldog head coach Eben Baumhover. “I like to get ahead and stay ahead but it did show a lot how they were able to come back from certain situations.”
Van Meter kicked off the game with a five-run first inning. The Bulldogs plated two more runs in the third and three more runs in the fourth. A three-run fifth inning followed by a six-run sixth inning brought the Bulldogs to their grand total of 14 runs plated.
Across their 14 hits, the Bulldogs had nearly everyone record at least one hit. Brett Berg led the way striking three hits in five trips to the plate and in all, he reached base five times. Berg also led the Bulldogs with four runs driven in for the game. The one game alone set career highs for Berg in both hits and RBI in a state tournament game. The junior is now 4-6 in postseason play with five runs batted in. Berg’s hit total now runs up to 58 hits while driving in 53 runs on the season.
“Brett had great plate presence tonight and really struck the ball well,” said Baumhover. “He got the Underwood pitchers to throw to him on his terms and he directed each at-bat. Very strong day for him today.”
Others who had a big night included Spencer Lamb who knocked in three runs on two hits as he bumps his RBI total up to 30 on the season. Lamb played a big part in the wild shootout and it was certainly a new endeavor for him and the rest of the Bulldogs.
“It was certainly wild,” said Lamb following the win. “It was an exciting game to be apart of and it was extremely fun to play in. When your team is hitting well and everything is going right, it’s a really fun time.”
All but one Bulldog batter recorded at least one hit including Zach Pleggenkuhle who captured his third triple of the season along with a pair of walks to round out his night. Bryce Cole also added in a good night highlighted by an RBI triple in the middle innings followed by a sacrifice RBI later on. Cole now has eleven RBI on the season.
While there was a lot of positives in the game, ultimately big assistance came from the running game.
“Running the bases well is always a big thing in games and tonight it definitely helped not only keep us in the game, but pad onto our lead when we needed to,” said Baumhover. “Against state tournament teams you need to do the little things right and we did that for the win tonight.”
The Bulldogs took advantage of five Eagle errors on the night which helped to lead to Van Meter’s ninth state tournament win in program history. The victory now gives Van Meter the right to move on to the semi-final round where they will take on War Eagle Conference member West Sioux on Thursday, August 1st.