While some people may have been enjoying time at the pool, hanging around the house, or maybe catching a movie, the Van Meter baseball team was making history Saturday afternoon as they proclaimed themselves number one with a state title victory.
Held in the confines of Principal Park, Van Meter had it all going as they picked up another shutout win to best North Linn for the Class 2A title 6-0. What better way to end what has been a purely amazing season for Bulldog baseball as they captured their second summer state title in program history. It was an ending that many could only dream of but while others were dreaming, head coach Eben Baumhover was planning.
“In the end, this is what you plan for,” began Baumhover. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect us to accomplish this to some degree back when the season began. Most of these guys are returners from last year’s state-run so when you couple the great talent here with experience, it was certainly in the plans to win it all this year.”
Baumhover, who took over for coach Kennedy this season, did what few coaches have been able to do in the history of Iowa high school baseball. His very first season as the head coach resulted in a title run and it couldn’t have felt better for him.
“It’s a long season filled with a lot of ups and downs,” started Baumhover. “To end it as the champs is something I nor anyone on the team will ever forget. It’s one of the most special moments in my life and to do it with these kids, you can’t really ask for much more.”
Coach Baumhover and the Bulldogs procured their six runs on seven hits and took advantage of three North Linn errors. Efficiency played a big role in the win especially early on as Van Meter opened up a 2-0 lead after one inning of play, despite earning just one hit. A walk and two North Linn errors helped Van Meter get off to a rolling start.
From top to bottom, the Bulldog lineup was powerful as evident by freshman Jack Pettit who knocked in his 13th hit of the season in the top of the fourth which plated two on his RBI double. Pettit then got to experience crossing home plate for the first time at a state game this season when sophomore Zach Pleggenkuhle knocked in his 29th RBI and fourth triple of the season to help break open the Bulldog lead 5-0. Petitt had a slight hand in the sixth and final run for the Bulldogs as his at-bat forced another North Linn error, allowing a run to score for Van Meter, making the game 6-0.
Van Meter really made North Linn pay for every mistake they made and in the end, it was a big part of the win.
“We knew we couldn’t give them anything to work with,” said winning pitcher Anthony Potthoff who had over four strikeouts on the day. “Those errors really helped us out and helped us break away. We did a great job capitalizing and that really helped in the win today.”
North Linn averaged 9.6 runs per game coming into the title match-up and hadn’t been shut out all season long. Then came along Potthoff who overcome early trouble to strand six runners on base across the first four innings of play. The junior hurler allowed just seven hits total and a mere two hits across the final three innings of play. It was a strong outing and even stronger bounceback from his last start allowing three runs to cross the plate.
“It felt really good to bounce back and even better to do it in a game like this to win state,” said Potthoff. “We had a game plan of attack the inside early and it worked out well today. I felt I had good control of my fastball and from there everything that followed seemed pretty easy.”
The Bulldogs improved their overall record for the season to 34-3. The title for the Bulldogs marks the third overall for Van Meter, second summer state title as they made it to their eighth state tournament appearance in school history.