GOOD ENOUGH … FOR NOW
Lynx overcome woes to dispatch Perry in district opener
WEBSTER CITY — There was no spark, only apprehension for Webster City as it found itself in a one-run dogfight with upset-minded Perry at Lynx Field Friday night.
The Lynx needed something, anything, to break them out of the malaise they were in as the Class 3A District 4 semifinal reached the fifth inning.
And that’s when senior second baseman Noah McKinney made a play. A few minutes later, he made another and, suddenly, WCHS was off to the races.
McKinney started a 4-6-3 double play to get the Lynx out of a jam in the top of the fifth inning and then minutes later barreled a ball into the gap in left-center for a double to ignite a three-run flurry that provided the cushion for a 9-4 victory over the Blue Jays.
“Not letting them score was a big thing and then getting everyone fired up was big because we had to get going at some point,” McKinney said.
Dylan Steen, Max Hackbarth and Jordan Tanner followed McKinney with consecutive singles off Perry pitcher Keghan West to help increase the margin to 7-3 with two innings remaining.
WCHS (17-5) could breathe again and the relief was noticeable.
“Those two plays were huge,” Tanner, who went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs in the win, said. “Noah, that’s juts a senior doing a senior thing. He knew what needed to be done and he did it.”
The good news is that the Lynx moved to within two wins of their first state tournament berth in more than a decade. The perhaps concerning news is what Humboldt (18-14) stands in their way following a 5-2 win over Clear Lake in the first semifinal. The Wildcats won both regular season meetings over WCHS.
“We cannot expect to make a state run with that kind of game,” Steen, who paced the WCHS offense with a 4 for 4 showing with four RBIs, said of the sometimes leaky win over Perry. “We still won, but we know we’re capable of playing a lot better than that.”
The Lynx will have to if they want to get by Humboldt tonight at Lynx Field at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got to go into Monday with our heads into it,” Tanner said. “If we take a play off, we’ll probably go home.”
The Hackbarth brothers, Max and Nick, joined Tanner with two hits and both smacked a double. Max Hackbarth drove in one run.
WCHS finished with 11 hits off West, which proved to be the team’s salvation on a night when the usually stoic pitching staff blinked a time or two.
“This is probably our best hitting game of the year even though we didn’t pitch very well,” Steen, who got the start on the mound and went three innings to earn the win, his eighth of the season, said. “We had a lot of guys step up.”
Steen allowed three hits and three earned runs during his stint. Max Hackbarth took over in the fourth and surrendered four hits and one run with six strikeouts over 31⁄3 before giving the ball to Caleb Olson for the final two outs.
Steen and Hackbarth combined to walk six. Both kept their pitch counts below 65, which will allow them to be able to throw if called on against Humboldt.
“I know I walked too many,” Steen said. “It was just a night where we didn’t have it and I’m not sure why.”
Perry (9-12) was a game opponent though. The Blue Jays rattled off seven hits, including two doubles, and delivered the first punch with a first-inning run. Aaron Lockwood finished 3 for 3 at the dish and drove in three runs.
A two-out single down the left-field line by Steen, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Max Hackbarth and Tanner, put WCHS in front in the last half of the first frame. Tanner later scored on a balk to make it 3-1.
Nick Hackbarth found the gap in right-center for a one-out double in the second and he scored four batters later on Steen’s second base knock, a liner into center, for a 4-1 WCHS advantage.
Perry closed to within 4-3 in the third on a Lockwood blooper into left.
WCHS added a couple insurance runs in the sixth and again it was Steen who came through in the clutch. With Nick Hackbarth and Romel Martinez in scoring position, Steen hit another screamer into center to plate both.
“We were fortunate that we got key hits from guys in key situations,” WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe said. “But I thought this was the least mentally we’ve been into a game all season. It doesn’t matter what the records are or who’s pitching, you still have to show up and play and for a couple innings we just didn’t.”
Kehoe now has plenty of options with his pitching staff against Humboldt. He could go with Steen (8-0, 1.70 ERA) or Hackbarth (4-2, 1.44 ERA), or he could call on Cameron Moen (3-1, 1.08 ERA), who hasn’t allowed a run in his last 201⁄3 innings of work.
Tonight’s winner will advance to Wednesday’s Substate 2 final in Boone against either Boone (22-8) or Gilbert (17-14), who will play for the District 3 title this evening.
Webster City 9, Perry 4
Class 3A District 4 Semifinal
Friday at Webster City
Perry 102 000 1 — 3 7 2
Web City 310 032 x — 9 11 0
Keghan West and Gavin Boyer. Dylan Steen, Max Hackbarth (4), Caleb Olson (7) and Jordan Tanner. W — Steen. L — West. 2B — PER: Boyer, Aaron Lockwood; WC: M. Hackbarth, Tanner, Noah McKinney, Nick Hackbarth. Multiple hits — PER: Lockwood (3); WC: Steen (4), M. Hackbarth, Tanner, N. Hackbarth. RBI — PER: Lockwood (3); WC: Steen (4), Tanner (2), M. Hackbarth.