HCHS senior catcher Jared Moser (right) hugs junior pitcher Brett Sears following Wednesday’s 6-0 substate final win over Winterset. Sears fired a four-hitter for his ninth win of the season. Cyclone senior Logan Klaassen (center) celebrates with teammates Connor Bruck (2) and Ryan Doran (89) after scoring the team’s third run during a five-run sixth inning. (Photos by Mike Oeffner) HCHS third baseman Joey Moser catches a foul pop-up during Wednesday’s win over Winterset. HCHS players, left-right, Luke Schaben, Brett Sears (4), Ryan Doran, Connor Bruck (2) and Jared Moser shake hands following Wednesday’s substate win over Winterset. Cyclone sophomore Connor Bruck puts the ball in play off Winterset pitcher Casey Young. HCHS second baseman Luke Schaben throws out a Winterset runner at first.

Cyclones send eighth straight to state

Sears outduels Young with four-hit shutout as Harlan Community scores five late runs to beat Winterset 6-0 in 3A substate final, extending state tournament streak to eight years

 HARLAN (July 18) -- Not so long ago, Brett Sears and the words pitch efficiency didn’t always belong in the same sentence.
 It’s hard to argue with Sears’ 27-3 career record for the Harlan Community baseball team, but sometimes striking out a lot of hitters requires throwing a lot of pitches.
 Not on Wednesday.
 Putting together one of the best outings of his four-year varsity career, the Cyclone junior ace outdueled Winterset sophomore Casey Young with a highly efficient four-hit shutout as HCHS pulled away late for a 6-0 Class 3A, Substate 8 final win over the Huskies at Jim Goeser Field.
 The top-ranked Cyclones (31-3) clinched their eighth consecutive state tournament appearance and will be the number two seed in 3A, facing Boone (24-8) on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m.) at Principal Park in Des Moines.
 Asked what stands out about this year’s group, HCHS coach Steve Daeges started by talking about his top pitcher.
 “Obviously, I think the thing that makes us different right now is Brett Sears. You don’t get guys with an arm like that to come along every year,” he said.
 Moved up four hours to a 3:00 p.m. start due to a wet forecast, Wednesday’s game featured 23 total strikeouts to just 13 hits. The duel between Sears and Young was as good as advertised and came right down to efficiency.
 Young (2-5, 2.03 earned run average) struck out 12 in five and one-third innings but battled long counts the whole way and reached the state-mandated pitch count limit of 110 with a runner on and one out in the bottom of the sixth - HCHS leading just 1-0 at the time. Two relief pitchers later, the Cyclones had extended the margin to 6-0 and removed nearly all doubt from the outcome.
 Sears, meanwhile, needed just 74 pitches to navigate all seven innings, allowing four singles, walking none and striking out 11 to improve to 9-1 with a 1.06 ERA. During one inning, Sears faced four batters but threw only four pitches.
 Both Sears and Young, a talented young lefty, had command of three pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) Wednesday, making things tough on even the best hitters in each lineup. Through five and a half innings, the only run came across when HCHS senior Nick Foss doubled home Sears in the third.
 The Cyclones outhit the Huskies 9-4, getting two hits each from Sears, Klaassen and Joey Moser.

Class 3A State Baseball Tournament (at Principal Park - Des Moines)
Quarterfinals • Tuesday, July 24
Assumption (#1 seed, 31-10) vs. Bondurant-Farrar (#8 seed, 17-15), 11 a.m.
Bishop Heelan (#4 seed, 31-10) vs. Solon (#5 seed, 32-10), 1:30 p.m.
Harlan Comm. (#2 seed, 31-3) vs. Boone (#7 seed, 24-8), 7:30 p.m.
Carlisle (#3 seed, 33-7) vs. Waverly-Shell Rock (#6 seed, 33-7), 5:00 p.m.
Semifinals • Friday, July 27 • 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (TBD)
Championship Game • Saturday, July 28 • 5:00 p.m.

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