Steen mows down Lions, WCHS widens NCC?gap
WEBSTER CITY — Dylan Steen found himself in more than a few pickles Monday night.
There were the two rundowns, one he escaped and the other not so much. There were the various predicaments on the mound, including a bases loaded scenario in the fifth inning, that he managed to evade. There was the RBI double he belted in the first inning that, somehow, was taken away from him on a phantom timeout that was apparently called prior to the pitch that he roasted into the gap in right-center.
Through it all — the good, the bad and everything in between — the Webster City senior stayed in control. And it went a long way towards delivering the Lynx a welcomed insurance policy as they attempt to chase down a second North Central Conference title in three years.
At the plate Steen went 2 for 4 with an RBI and run scored. On the mound he tossed 61⁄3 innings of five-hit ball with a season-high 15 strikeouts to direct WCHS to a 5-2 victory over Clear Lake at Lynx Field.
“We were super focused for this one,” Steen said. “I’ve not seen our entire team before a game so locked in and focused, and that really paid dividends.”
WCHS (12-6, 7-0 NCC) increased its lead in the league to two games over Clear Lake (8-10, 4-2 NCC) and Humboldt (12-8, 5-2 NCC), which will come to town this evening for a 7:30 p.m. game. It did so by scoring the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and then adding two more runs in the fifth to take down the Lions for the second time this season.
Steen’s blazing fastball was too much for most of the Lions’ bats. He had stretches of six and four consecutive outs on strikeouts, and even fanned four in the fourth inning. Just one of Clear Lake’s runs was earned and Steen did it while walking only one.
“I felt really comfortable all game,” he said. “My curveball wasn’t there all the time, but when it was it was good.”
Steen sat down his final batter in the seventh inning. Tyler Olson took over and picked off a runner at first and then recorded the team’s 16th strikeout to turn out the lights on the Lions.
Steen and Olson are a combined 10-2 on the mound with 103 Ks in 632⁄3 innings of work.
“On the mound, you get an idea that they’re going to give you a good showing pretty quickly,” WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe said.
Tyler Olson also went 2 for 4 at the plate with a double and RBI. With Sean Carver aboard with a single in the fourth, Olson fought off an inside pitch from Andrew Formanek and blooped it down the left-field line for a stand-up double that brought Carver to the dish with the go-ahead run.
Carver is another unsung hero of sorts for the league-leading Lynx. Hitting out of the No. 6 spot, he reached base twice, scored twice and is now hitting .357 on the season.
“Sean is a wildcard for us,” Kehoe said. “I guess he’s a pleasant surprise to some, but it’s not that big of a surprise to me because I know how hard he’s worked.”
Devon Stoakes added a first-inning bunt single that helped WCHS build a 2-0 lead after the opening frame. Ty McKinney beat out an infield single in the fifth that scored Steen, and Carver also came around when the throw sailed wide of the bag at first. The sequence increased the Lynx lead to three runs.
Erik McHenry went 3 for 4 at the top of Clear Lake’s lineup. His third-inning base knock scored Mac Adams to cut the Lynx lead to 2-1.
Chase Stuver led off the fourth with a single for the Lions. Steen appeared to be out of a second and third jam in the frame when he whiffed Formanek for the third out, but the breaking ball was in the dirt and bounced away from Stoakes behind the plate. Stuver raced home with the tying run and Formanek reached first. Adams was the fourth strikeout of the inning one batter later.
Even though the league season is only halfway over, a win over Humboldt tonight would give WCHS a chokehold on the chase. Still, don’t expect the Lynx to take anything for granted.
“We’re trying to take all of our conference games one at time no matter what our lead is,” Steen said. “Humboldt is next and that’s all we’re focused on right now.”
Webster City 5, Clear Lake 2
Monday at Webster City
Cl. Lake 001 100 0 — 2 6 2
Web City 200 120 x — 5 7 2
Andrew Formanek, Mac Adams (5) and Connor O’Tool. Dylan Steen, Tyler Olson (7) and Devon Stoakes. W — Steen. L — Formanek. Multiple hits — CL: Erik McHenry (3); WC: T. Olson, Steen. 2B — WC: T. Olson. RBI — CL: McHenry; WC: Ty McKinney (2), T. Olson, Steen.