There isn’t much of a better outcome for senior players than to cap off senior night with a win, but earning that win over a formidable opponent is even better.
That’s the boat the top-ranked Class 2A Van Meter Bulldogs found themselves in Thursday night as they hosted Class 3A’s ADM.
Thanks to a break-away four-run sixth inning, Van Meter pulled away with a 7-2 victory and collected their seventh victory over the Tigers in the past eight matchups.
“ADM is a good team and they know how to hit the ball,” said co-head coach Eben Baumhover. “We knew it was going to be a tough game where we’d have to battle all night long.”
Overall it was a matchup that fans, players, and coaches alike felt lived up to the height with both sides striking seven hits on the night.
“We battled tonight through adversity,” began ADM head coach Jason Book. “It was an exciting game to be apart of as always.”
The host Bulldogs was the team that struck first, pushing across a run in the bottom half of the first inning on a passed ball for a 1-0 advantage. One of the common threads across both teams was the way they capitalized on mistakes. ADM also pounced on a pitching error as Cole Williamson crossed the plate on the only passed ball by Van Meter senior pitcher Anthony Potthoff in the third. The entire first at-bat by the junior was one that took advantage of mistakes, earning his way on the base paths via hit by a pitch which was followed by two Van Meter errors and wrapped up with the wild pitch. Overall, it wasn’t the cleanest game for both squads with eight errors suffered across the entire game. All but a pair of those eight errors resulted in either a base runner or a run crossing the plate. It was a battle in which the fielding side of the game held just as much power as the offense or pitching aspects.
“Errors are just extra hits, you can’t give teams extra outs,” said Van Meter senior Anthony Potthoff. “The scoreboard said they had more than us and that got us on the basepaths more and we capitalized more.”
Overall the visiting Tigers held six of the eight errors while two went to the host Bulldogs.
Following the wild pitch, ADM senior Kaden Sutton captured his fourth double of the season in that same inning which in turn plated another run for what would be the only lead of the game for the Tigers at 2-1. Van Meter brought the game back to equal with Cody Coffman’s seventh RBI in the past four games in the fourth inning. They then proceeded to capture a lead from which they would not look back in the fifth inning courtesy of an ADM error. That lead didn’t seem enough for Van Meter, who ended up securing the win with their four-run sixth inning. A Pleggenkuhle bunt-hit and a Jack Pettit single accounted for the first two runs of the inning while another wild pitch and an error helped to plate the final two runs of the inning, thus presenting hometown fans with a 7-2 Bulldog lead. That ended up resting as the final score with Van Meter taking the win.
While late offense may have stolen the excitement, it was the pitching dual that highlighted the action overall. ADM employed junior Tate Stine-Smith who struck out three batters and held host Van Meter (normally averaging eight hits per game) to just six hits with just one walk. The junior also forced Van Meter into ground balls 59 percent of the time as he forced seven 0-2 counts for the game.
“He (Tate) did a good job of keeping them off-balance,” began Book. “He’s effectively wild, he’s in the zone but he’s also out of the zone a lot and it’s hard to lock in on a guy like that because you don’t know where every pitch is going to be.”
On the other side, Anthony Potthoff took the bump and the eventual win for the Bulldogs. The junior went the distance with seven innings pitched and in the process, struck out six batters, giving him a Class 2A fifth-best mark of 40 strikeouts on the season. Potthoff may have allowed seven hits but he evened things out by leaving seven Tiger runners on base while walking just one batter all night long. Potthoff was effective in finding ways to begin opposing at-bats with a strike thanks to 18 total 0-1 counts on the night.
“The changeup was working well for him tonight,” said Baumhover. “He settled in after some early trouble and used his slider and fastball effectively the rest of the game.”
In total, six Bulldog batters saw ten or more pitches on the night and five batters recorded at least one hit, highlighted by Coffman’s 2-for-3 night. On the ADM side, they had six batters record a hit as well, highlighted by the team’s only two-hit performance by Zach Fuller who went 2-for-3 with one run driven in.
The win for Van Meter brings the Bulldog record up to 15-2-1 while ADM’s record drops their overall mark to 9-5 overall. Next up for the Tigers will be a road battle against Carlisle while Van Meter will conclude their season with a doubleheader against Roland-Story.