Lynx dig out of 4-0 hole, rally past Humboldt to reach 3A?district final
SLATER — Webster City has 243 hits this season and the argument could be made the two biggest came off the same bat against the same team.
Sean Carver is The Man, in more ways than one. And Humboldt isn’t likely to forget the Lynx sophomore designated hitter anytime soon.
Just nine days after bashing a three-run home run to bust open an 11-4 win over Humboldt that essentially clinched the North Central Conference title for the Lynx, Carver punished the Wildcats again in a 5-4 Class 3A District 3 semifinal win at Nite Hawk Field Friday evening.
With WCHS trailing 4-3 in the seventh inning, Carver stepped to the plate with one out just moments after Humboldt had intentionally walked Caleb Olson to load the bases and set up a force at any base. Down in the count, Carver found a Jacob Thurm pitch in his wheelhouse and he raked it into the gap in left-center. His double plated Tyler Olson with the tying run and Dylan Steen with the go-ahead run.
Carver understood why the Wildcats elected to give Caleb Olson the free base. It was the right baseball play. Still, it provided some motivation after he went hitless with a pair of strikeouts in his initial three at bats.
“It sort of feels like it’s a bit disrespectful because they expect you to go up there and lay an egg or something,” Carver said. “But it feels a lot better when you go up there and get a double.”
Nobody was happier for Carver than Steen, one of the team’s three seniors who will see his prep career extended by at least one game. WCHS (20-9), winners of 20 games for the first time this century, will face 10th-ranked Ballard (24-8) this evening in the district final.
“It’s just another underclassmen pulling through for us and I love that,” Steen said. “It just shows a lot of heart. It shows how much the younger kids wanted to play for the older kids. It shows there’s that good relationship and why we’ve been so successful this year.”
Steen was pretty good too. No, check that. He was great.
Steen went 4 for 4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs, and he also took over for starting pitcher Tyler Olson in the seventh and sat Humboldt (21-12) down in order. His two-RBI double in the fifth inning brought life back into the WCHS dugout, something that had been missing after the Wildcats landed the early punches to open up a 4-0 lead after two innings.
Steen also raced home on a wild pitch in the fifth to trim Humboldt’s lead to 4-3.
“We feel like we always have a chance no matter what the score is,” Tyler Olson, who went 2 for 4 at the plate and won his 3A-best 11th game on the mound, said.
The trio of Steen, Tyler Olson and Zach Dyvig combined for eight of the Lynx 11 hits off Thurm. They connected for consecutive hits in the third and fifth innings, and all three reached base in the seventh as well.
“Dyvig got some big hits for us and then the runs started coming,” Tyler Olson said.
Ty McKinney and CJ Hisler added singles for the Lynx.
Tyler Olson faced plenty of adversity early in the game, more than just the scorching temperature that sat in the 90s throughout the contest. He allowed two hits in the first inning, the second of which was an RBI double into the right-center gap by Thurm.
Humboldt sent nine batters to the plate in its three-run second — a frame that should have been over after just three hitters. Olson struck out the first two, but then Cade Matson skied a pop-up on the infield that four WCHS players watched fall to the turf for a single. Two more hits — a Joey Busse two-run single to right opened the floodgate — and three walks followed before the Lynx were able to close the wound.
“It was tough early on,” Tyler Olson said. “I didn’t ever think we were going to lose, but I was having my doubts.”
Olson settled down though and allowed just six hits and struck out 11 in six innings on the bump. He pushed his strikeout total past 100; it currently sits at 102.
WCHS had no troubles getting to Thurm early on, but the Wildcats’ ace wiggled out of several jams. The Lynx loaded the bases with no outs in the third, but a strikeout and 4-6-3 double play kept the score at 4-0.
WCHS stranded five runners, four of them in scoring position, in the initial four innings.
Cleary energized by the rally in the top of the seventh, Steen sprinted to the mound in the bottom half of the frame. He quickly got Hudson Gargano and Busse out on ground balls and then struck out Owen Newton.
Never one to show much emotion, Steen screamed as he came off the mound and then raced to assistant coach Corbin Kehoe for a high-five.
“I wanted the ball so bad (in the seventh inning),” Steen said.
Matson went 2 for 3 to lead Humboldt offensively. His third-inning single to fight field was the Wildcats final knock and their last base runner, however. Tyler Olson and Steen combined to retire the final 13 Humboldt batters, seven of them on strikes.
This marked the fourth consecutive season the NCC rivals have met in the postseason. They’ve now split the meetings 2-2.
WCHS and Ballard will meet for the second time this summer. The Bombers, who roughed up winless Perry 12-2 in 6 innings in the other semifinal on Friday, knocked off the Lynx 3-0 on June 20.
Webster City 5, Humboldt 4
Class 3A District 3 Semifinal
Friday at Slater
Web City 000 030 2 — 5 11 0
Humboldt 130 000 0 — 4 6 0
Tyler Olson, Dylan Steen (7) and Devon Stoakes. Jacob Thurm and Colby Clarken. W — T. Olson. L — Thurm. S — Steen. Multiple hits — WC: Steen (4), T. Olson, Zach Dyvig; HUM: Cade Matson. 2B — WC: Steen (2), Sean Carver; HUM: Thurm. RBI — WC: Steen (2), Carver (2); HUM: Thurm (2), Joey Busse (2).