KALONA — Its often thought that sports teams want postseason victories at any cost. While it may be a thought, it is not well-thought out.
Baseball means very little when you see an ambulance drive out onto the field.
Iowa Mennonite School got an 8-4 victory over New London in a Class 1A District 8 quarterfinal Saturday. but lost a player to injury.
With one out in the top of the third inning, senior shortstop Trevor Leyden dove for a ball up the middle but missed, then two batters later fielded a ball and threw to first, then collapsed.
“It is really tough to see something like that happen,” IMS coach Danny Hershberger said. “I am happy with the way our guys stuck with it and competed and finished the game strong like they did. It is never a good situation with what happened to Trevor. All we can do is pray and be hopeful that it is not as serious as it looked. It is just a tough, tough situation.”
IMS had an 8-3 lead when it happened.
New London’s first two batters reached base, then Shae Summerfeld singled to load the bases and Carter Allen singled in a run. Another run scored on a passed ball. Darius Whaley led off the third inning with a double and scored on Summerfield’s single.
Noah Miller and Eli Ours lead off the first inning for IMS with singles. One scored on Blake Bontrager’s double and one scored on London Schrock’s sacrifice fly. Bontrager scored on New London’s misplay of a rundown.
NL starter Seth Bailey struck out the first batter of the second inning and had two strikes on the No. 9 batter before walking him. Two singles and a hit batter later, he was pulled for Whaley, who gave up a single and a bases-clearing triple to Schrock and the 8-3 deficit.
“Things changed for us there in the second inning,” NL coach Brad Helmerson said. “We got ahead in the count on their No. 9 hitter and ended up walking him. Then they end up scoring all them runs. That has been our M. O. all year. Every game it seems we have an inning where we struggle a little bit. We seem to have trouble in that inning making the plays that we need to.”
Shrock’s triple was the first triple by anybody on the team this season and players in the dugout could be heard laughing that it was accomplished by the slowest guy on the team.
“I don’t know about that because we haven’t timed anyone for awhile,” Hershberger said.
Whaley finished the game with five strikeouts, three walks and three hits. Just one run was his.
“I thought we competed real well after that,” Helmerson said. “The problem is we left too many on base. You were not going to get a win against a better team when you do that. A couple times we got the bases-loaded with nobody out and didn’t score. I think having the ambulance come and waiting on it might’ve helped us a little bit. The wheels were kind of falling off for us when that all started. We had just come off of that bad inning. Basically it was one of those deals where we just never put the pressure on them that we needed to. They made plays when they needed to at and we didn’t get it done when we needed to.”
New London left nine runners on base. Carter Allen was 2 for 4. Summerfield was 3 for 4. Whaley was 2 for 4.
“I thought our defense did a good job of limiting them to two runs in the first inning with how it started,” Hershberger said. “Blake did it great job competing and staying with it. He had a huge strikeout to get us out of an inning with the bases loaded.”
That was in the fourth inning.
“Towards the end of the game, the pitch count was always in the back of my mind and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Bontrager said. “I mean it’s there and you have to deal with it and I did not do a very good job of that.”
Bontrager went six innings for the win, yielding six hits, three runs, two earned, one walk and seven strikeouts.
“I’d say my curveball was working,” Bontrager said. “I didn’t throw it a lot but when I did it really clicked.”
New London ends the season with a record of 9-12.
IMS (12-7) advances to play Highland (13-10), an 8-4 winner over Cardinal, at Burlington Notre Dame Tuesday. IMS and the Huskies split their games, with each winning on the other’s field.
“I feel like getting the dub was really important when we came out tonight, but when we saw Trevor got hurt, it wasn’t as important, but it took so long that we tried to stay lighthearted and joke around,” Bontrager said. “I mean we talked about it for a little bit and what it would mean if things went wrong, but we know he’ll be back. At least we hope so.”