Good Enough … For Now
No. 6 Lynx play hesitant, still roll by Eagles in substate quarterfinal
WEBSTER CITY — With a shrug of the shoulders and without even a twinge of a grin, Tyler Olson nonverbally said he wasn’t impressed as he stood on the grass at Lynx Field with his right arm wrapped in ice Friday night.
He’d just thrown the third no-hitter of his impeccable career and his sixth-ranked Webster City baseball team had breezed by Eagle Grove, 10-0 in six innings, in a Class 3A Substate 2 quarterfinal, and yet the Lynx senior leader wasn’t celebrating.
Nobody was, actually. And probably with good reason.
The statistics say it was a dominant performance, and in many ways it was, but WCHS (25-1) didn’t display the same fire and flare that became its calling card throughout the regular season.
Head coach Adison Kehoe quickly addressed it afterward.
“We did things in this game, from a mental aspect, that we haven’t done all year,” Kehoe said. “Not knowing counts and missing signs, things like that, and I told them that if you want to do the things you want to do, you have to go play baseball to win the game and not try to lose the game. We were hesitant.”
Eagle Grove (11-13) was without freshman Jake Jeske, the team’s offensive leader, and pitchers Cayden Schultz and Blake Morgan combined to walk nine batters. However, Schultz stayed out of the Lynx wheelhouse — at the belt and above — and consequently WCHS (25-1) never found its groove offensively.
WCHS finished with 10 hits, but it was forced to go with small ball — back-to-back bunt singles by Devon Stoakes and Olson — in the fourth inning to break it open. Sean Carver essentially put the game out of reach with a bases-loaded, bases-clearing three-run double to left to give the Lynx a 6-0 lead, and he finished with four RBIs in the contest.
Olson went 3 for 4 at the dish with an RBI on a bloop single in the fifth, and Stokes and Beau Klaver both added two hits. Klaver also had an RBI on a blooper into center in the third.
Still, it wasn’t the kind of performance the Lynx wanted. They stranded 10 runners on base, nine of them in scoring position, and tallied only one extra-base hit.
“We didn’t hit the best,” Olson said. “We needed to go out there and try to win.”
Carver gave WCHS the only run it needed in the first when he lofted an RBI sacrifice fly to center. It plated Stoakes, who was aboard with a one-out infield single.
The Lynx scored twice in the third, as Trey Lyons plated a run on another sacrifice fly.
That was more than enough for Olson, who continued to make a compelling case as arguably the best pitcher in the history of the program. He struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced, retired the initial 13 of the game, and finished with 10 strikeouts.
Olson’s quest for a perfect game were ruined in the fifth when he threw a fastball too far inside and it caught the Eagles’ Chris Williams on the arm. But he was Eagle Grove’s only base runner, and no ball ever left the infield.
Olson credited with the change in balls used — WCHS opts for Diamond balls during the regular season, but the state switches to Spalding balls for the postseason — as a reason for his success. With higher seams, he was able to break off a number of nasty curves that had the Eagles flailing away.
“The change in balls really helped,” he said. “The zone really wasn’t that consistent, but it was OK.”
Olson is now 9-0 on the season with a 0.37 ERA, and he improved to 27-1 in his career with a 0.61 ERA.
“What he’s doing, what he’s done, in my eyes I don’t know how it’s going to be replicated,” Kehoe said of Olson. “It shows why he’s by far one of the premier pitchers, not in 3A but the entire state. I don’t care about class. It is what it is.”
The contest ended with no outs in the sixth inning. Chase Rattenborg led off the frame with a single to left, and then scored all the way from first on a ground ball off the bat of Trey Lyons that was thrown wildly to first.
Lyons also had a single in the contest.
WCHS will be back at home this evening to face North Central Conference rival Clear Lake (17-14) in a Substate 2 semifinal. The Lions thumped Algona, 18-1 in five innings, in the quarterfinals.
Class 3A Substate 2 Quarterfinal
WCHS 10, Eagle Grove 0 (6 inn)
Friday at Webster City
EG 000 000 — 0 0 3
WCHS 102 331 — 10 10 0
Cayden Schultz, Blake Morgan (5) and Andrew Dencklau. Tyler Olson and Devon Stoakes. W — Olson. L — Schultz. Multiple hits — WC: Olson (3), Stoakes, Beau Klaver. 2B — WC: Sean Carver. RBI — WC: Carver (4), Olson, Klaver, CJ Hisler, Trey Lyons.