Late game efforts not enough as Bulldog baseball falls

Andrew Brown - Sports Reporter
Van Meter's Zach Pleggenkuhle hits the ball during an at-bat against Des Moines Christian earlier this season. PHOTO BY ANDREW BROWN/DALLAS COUNTY NEWS

For just the second time all season, the Van Meter baseball team found themselves on the losing end of a game, falling to Class 3A’s fifth-ranked Gilbert Wednesday night 3-2. It was a rare contest where Van Meter left the proverbial “meat on the bone” as they weren’t able to capitalize on seven hits while leaving seven runners on base.

Stingy defense by Gilbert kept Van Meter from gaining much momentum throughout the contest, forcing the Bulldogs into three double-plays, two of which were inning-ending double-plays, one of which ended the game. The only scoring offense the Bulldogs mustered came off the bat of Cody Coffman. The senior helped Van Meter start out strong, pushing fellow senior Brett Berg home on a sacrifice fly, marking the 14th time this season the Bulldogs have hit the scoreboard first in a contest. That run came in the second inning of action but it didn’t hold for long as Gilbert captured the lead in the fourth inning by plating three runs.

That ended up being the only run production, let alone hit production, that came from the Gilbert offense. The team didn’t strike a single hit the rest of the game. The unfortunate part for Bulldog fans was despite Coffman’s RBI single in the sixth inning, the Bulldog offense wasn’t able to make the comeback attempt stick, falling 3-2. The normally potent Van Meter offense that currently rests fourth in Class 2A in RBI (107) and first in hits (averaging 8.8 hits per game) was held to their second-lowest scoring and hitting outputs of the season. In total, five Bulldogs recorded a hit in the contest, highlighted by two-hit performances from Jack Pettit and Jacob Blomgren along with the two-RBI night from Coffman.

Despite the overall loss, there is a silver lining as Van Meter’s defensive strength still showed up, limiting a Tiger squad averaging seven hits and six runs per game to just four hits and three runs Wednesday. Van Meter still holds the top spot in Class 2A in fielding percentage (.972) with the fewest amount of errors in the state (tied for first with 13). The ball was on the ground a little more than the Bulldog offense is used to seeing with 60 percent of Van Meter’s hits resulting in ground balls compared to 20 percent line drives.

On the mound for the Bulldogs, Zach Pleggenkuhle suffered the loss but not without giving Gilbert a run for their money, striking out four batters and walking just one Tiger hitter. All three runs that crossed the plate for Gilbert were earned runs. Brett Berg also came into the game, going two full innings and striking out four himself to round out the ball game.

The loss for Van Meter knocks down their record to 14-2-1 on the season. Van Meter will seek to get back in the win column as they lay host to Class 3A’s ADM tonight beginning with first pitch at 7 p.m.