Comets cage Huskies, 14-2
Dolphin, Mann homer as BCLUW blasts Nashua-Plainfield in district quarterfinals
REINBECK — BCLUW baseball head coach Matt Zoske couldn’t have scripted the start of the team’s Class 1A District 5 quarterfinal against Nashua-Plainfield much better.
Senior Blake Mann led off the game with a single, then two batters later fellow senior Troy Dolphin smashed a two-run home run over the right-field fence to put the Comets up 2-0 just three batters into the contest.
BCLUW would continue the offensive fireworks all evening on Tuesday as it rolled to a 14-2 win over the Huskies, and Zoske said the way his guys started the game really set the tone.
“It certainly helped to break the ice and get the runs on the board. But then we got more baserunners on, [Huskies pitcher Mason Hyde] could have just mowed down the next three guys and it would have just been a two-run lead — which would have been great — but we wouldn’t have had the momentum we did had we not gotten those runners on and gotten his pitch count up.”
Hyde is widely considered a top pitching talent in 1A, boasting a 5-1 record for Nashua-Plainfield (12-15) coming in, but the Comets (15-12) tagged him for 11 runs over 3 1/3 innings, including two home runs.
“We wanted to take it to them and with all the pitchers we’ve faced in our conference this year, there’s not going to be anything that they are going to put out there that was going to be better than that,” Zoske said. “Our guys were confident that they were going to get him, and if it wasn’t first time around or second time around, for seven innings it’s tough to hold us down.”
Mann hit the second dinger in the third to lead off the inning, his third of the season. That home run gave the Comets a 3-2 lead, one they would never relinquish, and it started the first of three four-run innings for the team.
The ball just barely got over the center-field fence, actually bouncing out of the center fielder’s glove, much to the surprise of Mann.
“I thought it was going to be a deep fly,” Mann said. “He was right at the warning track and was camped under it, but I noticed the guys were saying ‘keep going Blake!’ and I thought ‘oh I must have hit it over.’ I didn’t know he had bobbled it until they told me later in the dugout.”
Mann scored three runs, giving himself his own run support on the mound. He finished 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs and two RBIs, while Dolphin went 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, Brad Barkema finished 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI, and Logan Mann went 2-for-3 with a double that was nearly a home run and an RBI.
On the mound, Blake allowed two runs in the first inning — though both were unearned due to an error — and he held the Huskies scoreless for the final five. He finished by allowing six hits and five while walking just three batters.
He said this was a rare game for him, where he was able to get it done both throwing the ball and hitting.
“I don’t do that quite often, usually if I’m not on the mound I’m hitting well but if I am on the mound I’m not hitting so well, so it was nice to do both well and help out the team in both ways,” Blake said.
Zoske said the key to Mann’s success was his command of his pitches.
“Blake did really well, he located well and knew when he got his lead he just had to throw strikes,” Zoske said. “Give up hits, that’s fine, but don’t walk people. He’s learned how to pitch with a lead, and he did a nice job of that.”
The Comets now move to the district semifinals where it will face NICL West Division opponent Gladbrook-Reinbeck a third time. BCLUW won both of the previous meetings with the Rebels, and Zoske said the guys are playing arguably their best baseball of the year heading into the matchup.
“I think it’s the fact that we’ve gotten back to playing good defense and throwing strikes and just understanding that that’s going to minimize the opponents’ run total,” Zoske said. “With the offense we’ve got top-to-bottom, everybody getting on base, we are going to be a tough team to beat out.”
The Comets and Rebels will face off for a third and final time in the 1A District 5 semifinals on Thursday in Reinbeck with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
BCLUW 14, Nashua-Plainfield 2, 6 innings
BCLUW 204 404 — 14 15 1
N-P 200 000 — 2 6 0
Blake Mann, Logan Mann (6) and Brad Barkema; Mason Hyde, Levi Enright (4), Dylan Downing (6) and Michael Stille. WP–B. Mann (4-2). LP–Hyde (5-2). 2B–BCLUW: Barkema, L. Mann, Jack Garber; N-P: Kristian Holmvig, Enright. HR–BCLUW: Troy Dolphin (2), B. Mann (3). LOB–BCLUW 9, N-P 8.