HCHS rallies past No. 5 Heelan baseball team, 9-6

 HARLAN (May 24) -- Connor Bruck pitched five scoreless innings of relief and Brenden Bartley drove in four runs from the eight hole Friday night as Harlan Community erased an early 6-3 deficit and beat Sioux City Bishop Heelan 9-6 in an early-season matchup of Class 3A state baseball powers.
 Bruck, who struck out all six batters he faced in last Monday’s season opener at Carroll, was extremely sharp once again against the fifth-ranked Crusaders (2-2 overall), allowing just two hits while walking one, hitting a batter and striking out seven. Heelan did not advance a runner past second base versus Bruck (1-0), who finished his outing with the only 1-2-3 inning of the game.
 The sixth-ranked Cyclones, who also had two games rained out during their opening week, improved to 2-0.
 “We’re still trying to sort things out and see where everybody falls,” said HCHS head coach Steve Daeges, whose team has played in the last four 3A state title games. “We’re going to do some experimenting here early in the season and see where everybody goes and try to get the pieces together, but it’s a pretty good start.”
 Bruck will be the team’s number two starter again this year but has pitched in relief thus far. Daeges said he thought about starting Bruck on the mound Friday but knew his pitch count would be limited due to his relief stint earlier in the week.
 Senior Riley Kohles made the start instead and battled his command during two innings. He allowed an unearned run in the first and five runs in the second, including a three-run homer off the scoreboard by Heelan junior Jared Sitzmann. Kohles walked three, struck out two and allowed five hits.
   Offensively, the Cyclones took a brief 3-1 lead in the first inning with the help of two walks and an RBI double by Brett Sears off Heelan starter Collin Knapp.
 Bartley’s two-out RBI double to left-center pulled HCHS within 6-4 in the third and the Cyclones would take the lead with three more two-out runs in the fourth. Isaiah Ahrenholtz singled home one run and Bartley followed with a two-run double - this time to right-center - to put Harlan up 7-6.
 HCHS added two unearned insurance runs off Sitzmann in the sixth, capped by a Bartley sacrifice fly.
 The Cyclones’ six, seven and eight hitters came up big on the night as Derec Weyer went 3-for-4, Ahrenholtz scored three runs and Bartley had the two doubles and four RBI.

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