THE TEAM TO BEAT
LYNX ALL BUSINESS IN ROUT OF NCC CO-LEADER HUMBOLDT
HUMBOLDT — It started on the 45-minute bus ride north on Wednesday. The usual jokes and chatter amongst the players were replaced with silence and focus.
Webster City was on a business trip, a very important one at that. And it went very, very … very well.
Was it a home run? Yeah, you could say that.
WCHS cemented itself as the team to beat in the North Central Conference by blasting Humboldt, 11-1, at Wildcat Field. The two teams entered the confrontation as co-leaders in the league, but after a 14-hit barrage that included two dingers and at least one base hit for every player in the lineup, the Lynx gained a leg up heading into the second half of the season.
“It’s no secret that we are one of the better teams when
we want to be,” WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe said afterward. “This was one of our prettier games.”
Throw in Tyler Olson doing Tyler Olson things on the mound, and the outcome really wasn’t in doubt after Ty McKinney belted a one-out solo home run — the first of his career — to left field in the third inning. An RBI single by CJ Hisler later in the frame made it 2-0, and they were only the initial rumbles prior to the eruption.
“I like to get the energy going for the team and I did that,” McKinney, who celebrated all the way around the bases following his bomb, said. “We love these big-game moments, and when we turn it on I don’t think anybody can beat us.”
Connor Hanson put the cherry on top with his second home run of the season, a no-doubt two-run shot to left in the seventh inning that gave WCHS (12-1, 6-0 NCC) an 11-0 lead.
Ironically enough, Hanson stepped to the plate in the last frame as the only Lynx player without a hit. He quickly erased that when he turned on the Ty Gargano offering.
“We know we can hit that way all the time and it needs to come every game,” Olson, who went 1 for 2 with an RBI, said.
Just like the offense, Olson was locked in from the first pitch. The all-state senior right-hander limited Humboldt (12-2, 5-1 NCC) to just two hits, both coming off the bat of Hayden Holm on a swinging bunt in the second and a liner into right in the fifth.
Olson, who improved to 22-1 in his career with the complete-game masterpiece, retired eight in a row during one early stretch, and following Holm’s second hit he sat down the next seven, six of them on strikes.
Humboldt, which didn’t hit the ball to the grass until the fifth inning, scored an unearned run in the seventh.
Olson even got tricky with a quick pitch on Trevor Jacobson in the third inning for one of his 12 strikeouts. It’s a pitch he’d worked on for all of about three minutes in his pregame bullpen session.
It was Olson’s 10th double-digit strikeout performance in his career, and he lowered his season ERA to 0.52, tops among pitchers in Class 3A that have thrown at least 25 innings.
“It’s very pretty to watch him pitch,” McKinney said of Olson. “Before the season we always scrimmage a couple of times and I always want to be on the opposite team to hit him. I’ve yet to hit him in three years, so I don’t know what to tell other teams because he’s a very tough pitcher to hit.”
Olson’s counterpart, Caden Matson, suffered his first loss of the season after yielding 11 hits and eight earned runs in 51⁄3 innings. WCHS jumped on his fastball early and turned him into an off-speed pitcher by the fourth inning.
“Matson was 4-0 for a reason because he’s a sharp pitcher,” Kehoe said. “You don’t have the stats he has without doing many things right. But we wanted to see how far we could get him to go off his individual script.”
WCHS busted the contest open with a seven-run sixth inning. The Lynx sent 11 batters to the dish and scattered seven hits to put the game out of reach, 9-0. Hisler opened the frame with an infield single, and later delivered the dagger — a bases-loaded, bases-clearing three-RBI double to left-center. In between, Chase Rattenborg roped a two-RBI single into left, and Trey Lyons followed with a laser into center to plate another.
WCHS had four consecutive hits during one stretch of the sixth, and seven of the first eight batters reached base.
“Once we hopped on that fastball, we got in (Matson’s) head and it was game over from there,” McKinney said.
Olson showed no signs of weariness after the long layoff, as he whiffed the side in the bottom of the sixth.
Hisler finished 3 for 4 with a game-high four RBIs, while McKinney, Rattenborg and Beau Klaver also smacked two hits. Klaver cranked a double to deep left field in the second inning.
Sean Carver laced a third-inning single, and Devon Stoakes joined the sixth-inning eruption with a base knock into center.
WCHS will look to carry the momentum into tonight’s tough road test at seventh-ranked (3A) Boone. The Lynx will resume conference play at home against Clear Lake on Monday.
WCHS 11, Humboldt 1
Wednesday at Humboldt
WCHS 002 007 2 — 11 14 2
HUM 000 000 1 — 1 2 0
Tyler Olson and Devon Stoakes. Caden Matson, Ty Gargano (6) and Colby Clarken. W — Olson. L — Matson. Multiple hits — WC: CJ Hisler (3), Ty McKinney, Beau Klaver, Chase Rattenborg; HUM: Hayden Holm. 2B — WC: Hisler, Klaver. HR — WC: McKinney, Connor Hanson. RBI — WC: Hisler (4), Rattenborg (2), Hanson (2), McKinney, Olson, Trey Lyons.