Lynx fend off a game bunch of ’Cats, advance to 3A district final
Schnathorst delivers game-winning RBI double; Hackbarth fans 14 in complete game, surpasses 100 K’s on season; Gilbert up next
GILBERT — Ty Schnathorst preferred to bat in the lead-off spot, but he played it cool and mature when he was dropped from No. 1 to No. 9 in the Webster City batting order a few weeks ago.
“No (he didn’t like it), but I definitely saw where (head coach Adison Kehoe) was coming from,” he said. “I wasn’t too hot when it happened.”
It’s funny how things work out. Had the Lynx senior remained at the top, he never would have had the chance to put on his invisible cape and play the role of the hero against Humboldt in Friday’s Class 3A District 3 semifinal.
Locked in a 3-3 tie with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Schnathorst stepped to the dish and turned on a first-pitch fastball for a RBI double to left-center that put WCHS up to stay in its 6-3 victory over the Wildcats.
Winners of five straight games, the Lynx (19-4) will battle seventh-ranked Gilbert (24-8) for the district title on the Tigers’ home diamond this evening. Gilbert advanced by shellacking Algona, 11-1 in five innings, in the second semifinal on Friday.
Schnathorst couldn’t have asked to be in a better position and, with the game and season on the line, he delivered.
“It was a big play and that’s a situation I want to be in,” Schnathorst said after he lashed half of the Lynx four hits. “I usually look for that first pitch. I don’t get walked very much and I hit it when it’s a strike.”
WCHS added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back wild pitches by Humboldt (18-12) reliever Joey Busse. But it was Schnathorst’s liner that tipped the scales in the Lynx favor.
“When (Humboldt) called that timeout right before (Schnathorst) went up, he walked up to me and you could just see it in his eyes. He wanted that at bat,” Kehoe said. “In my eyes, the No. 9 hitter is your second lead-off hitter. He’s done his job all year.”
WCHS moved to 3-0 against Humboldt this season, but it was far from easy. The Wildcats fared better than any other opponent has against Lynx ace pitcher Max Hackbarth and they owned a 7-4 hits advantage.
But the Lynx were able to manufacture runs, and whenever Humboldt siphoned off the momentum, WCHS was there with the answer.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Wildcats closed to within 2-1 in the top of the third. WCHS answered with its own run in the bottom half of the frame to go back up by two.
Humboldt put up two runs in the top of the sixth to draw even, and again WCHS quickly dusted itself off.
“The constant resilience of this team has been wonderful,” Kehoe said. “We’ve never really panicked, even when we’ve been losing, all year.”
Jordan Tanner belted a first-inning bomb off the fence in left field for a one-out triple and he scored three batters later on a Riley Mishler RBI grounder. Dylan Steen, aboard after getting plunked, made it 2-0 moments later when Humboldt threw wildly attempting to throw out a sliding Mishler at second.
WCHS was aided by five walks and three hit batters, one of them being Romel Martinez, who took a fastball to the back with the bases loaded in the third inning. Humboldt starter Devon Clark had his curveball working and allowed just two hits before he was pulled in the fifth.
“That was by far the best I’ve seen (Clark) pitch this year and I’ve seen him five times,” Kehoe said.
Hackbarth was nasty as well, particularly early on when he retired the first 10 batters of the game. Clark finally broke up the perfect outing with a double to left-center with one out in the fourth and he scored on a Reese DeWinter single up the middle.
Clark also singled in the sixth and scored on an Owen Newton gap shot to right-center. Newton beat a throw home to tie the game on a Busse sac fly to center two batters later.
Only one run charged to Hackbarth was earned. He struck out 14 batters, including Clark to end the game, and issued just one walk en route to the complete-game victory. Now 7-0 on the season, Hackbarth became just the second pitcher in the state — regardless of class — this season to fan 100 batters when he sat down DeWinter in the sixth inning. He now sits on 103.
But Hackbarth tipped his hat to the Wildcats, who jumped on as many first-pitch fastballs as they could and had some success.
“I left some (pitches) belt high and made some mistakes, but they’re a good hitting team,” he said. “You have to give it to them.”
Clark and Schnathorst both finished with two hits. Bryan Ferrell added a single for the Lynx. He led off the sixth with a liner to right and then maneuvered his way to third on a pair of wild pitches. He was able to trot home on Schnathorst’s double.
Tonight’s district final will be the first meeting of the season between WCHS and Gilbert. Hackbarth will be unavailable to head to the mound after he threw 100 pitches against Humboldt, but he says he’s confident in his teammates.
“I would love to be able to pitch, but we’ve got four other guys who can do just as good as I can,” Hackbarth said. “I’ve got 100 percent confidence in them.”
The likely starter is Ferrell, a crafty right-hander with an array of off-speed pitches. But Kehoe says he may throw the kitchen sink at Gilbert’s explosive offense.
“I’ve already told the boys that there’s a strong chance that (Gilbert) may see six (pitchers),” Kehoe said. “The game may last 41⁄2 hours because it’s going to strictly be on match-ups.”
Tonight’s winner will advance to Wednesday’s Substate 2 game against either fourth-ranked Saydel or Ballard.
Webster City 6, Humboldt 3
Class 3A District 3 Semifinal
Friday at Gilbert
Humboldt 000 102 0 — 3 7 2
Webster City 200 103 x — 6 4 2
Devon Clark, Joey Busse (5) and Isaac Thurm. Max Hackbarth and Jordan Tanner. W — Hackbarth. L — Busse. 2B — HUM: Clark, Owen Newton; WC: Ty Schnathorst. 3B — WC: Tanner. RBI — HUM: Newton, Busse, Reese DeWinter; WC: Schnathorst, Romel Martinez, Riley Mishler.