DC-G’s eight-run outburst finishes off Cyclones

3A Baseball Substate Final: DC-G 12, HCHS 2 (6)... HCHS held early 2-0 lead, left bases loaded in 6th trailing 4-2

 DALLAS CENTER (July 22) -- The better team ultimately may have won Wednesday’s Class 3A, Substate 8 baseball final in Dallas Center, but the score serves no justice to the competitive nature of the game.
 Trailing 4-2 since the end of the first inning, Harlan Community loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth but was unable to score against Dallas Center-Grimes ace pitcher Logan Smith.
 The momentum from that escape carried right into the bottom of the inning for the fourth-ranked Mustangs, who opened the frame with three straight doubles off Cyclone ace Connor Bruck.
 DC-G added four more hits off Harlan relievers Franz Reisz and Joey Moser - the inning was extended by a dropped fly ball - and plated eight total runs to finish off the Cyclones by the mercy rule, 12-2, in six.
 The Mustangs, who lost a 5-4 decision to HCHS July 7, improved to 17-3 and will be the No. 2 seed in the 3A State Baseball Tournament. They faced Benton Community (13-11) in a 3A quarterfinal July 28.
 The Cyclones, who were playing in their 10th straight substate final despite having just one senior (Bruck) in the starting lineup, finished the season 14-4 overall.
 “I thought we came a long way in a short amount of time this year,” said HCHS head coach Steve Daeges, referring to a reduced 15-game regular season due to COVID-19.
 “In the sixth inning... we’re a base hit away from tying this thing up and having a chance to beat a veteran team that deserves everything they got. They’re a very tough team and we just feel fortunate to get this far, and then to have a chance to maybe win the ball game late says a lot about our team.”
 Few could have predicted six first-inning runs crossing the plate with Smith (8-0) and Bruck (4-2) on the mound, but neither pitcher caught any early breaks. In fact, the game could have conceivably been scoreless after one.
 HCHS got just the start it was looking for in the top of the first when Bruck and Moser led off the game with back-to-back singles, then executed a double steal.
 Following a strikeout, Isaiah Ahrenholtz hit a ground ball to third baseman Cody Hall and Bruck bolted for home. Hall’s throw to the plate would have beaten Bruck, but it whizzed past catcher Cole Wessling and two runs scored on the play.
 After Bruck allowed a leadoff single to Isaac Boley in the bottom of the first, he turned in the defensive play of the game by diving across the third-base foul line to catch Bryce Jermier’s popped-up bunt attempt.
 Good fortune took a turn the rest of the inning, however, as Bruck hit Caleb Dicken with a curveball and Colby Wigham’s spinning grounder along the first base line hit the bag, popped in the air and was unable to be corralled by first baseman Teagon Kasperbauer.
 With the bases now loaded and one out, the Mustangs’ 5-6-7 hitters came through big. Jordan Sedivec drove in the team’s first run with a sacrifice fly to deep right, Hall roped an RBI double and Smith followed with a two-run single to make it 4-2.
 Both pitchers put up zeros during the next four innings and allowed a combined one hit as the game settled into the expected Smith/Bruck duel.
 Bruck made it a 3-for-3 night in the sixth, leading off with essentially a swinging bunt for an infield hit. After Moser drew a walk and Brenden Bartley put down a successful sacrifice bunt, the Cyclones were in business again with the tying runs in scoring position.
 Ahrenholtz hit another sharp grounder to Hall, who this time bobbled the ball and allowed Ahrenholtz to reach as the runners stayed put. With the bases full, Smith buckled down and induced a foul pop-up to first, then notched his 10th strikeout to end the threat.
 Bruck and reserve Kobe Livengood were the only Cyclone seniors this summer. On the heels of an excellent senior basketball season, Bruck batted .561, did not commit a single error at shortstop and went 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA on the mound. He finished his five-year varsity career with a remarkable pitching record of 24-2.

Class 3A, Substate 8 Baseball Tourney
District Semifinal Scores: Friday, July 17
DISTRICT 15:                                        DISTRICT 16:
DC-Grimes 15, Greene County 1 (5)     Harlan Community 9, Creston 2
Carroll 11, Atlantic 1 (5)                         Denison 11, Glenwood 0 (6)
District Finals: Monday, July 20
DISTRICT 15:                                        DISTRICT 16:
Dallas Center-Grimes 7, Carroll 1         Harlan Community 13, Denison 3 (5)
Substate 8 Final: Wednesday, July 22
#4 Dallas Center-Grimes 12, Harlan Community 2 (6)

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