RIVERSIDE — As a pitcher, Blake Bontrager certainly knows how to start and end the game.
Bontrager was the winning pitcher in Iowa Mennonite School’s 5-1 Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division win over Highland Monday.
Bontrager gave up a total of two hits, both to the same Highland batter - a single in the second inning and a homerun in the fourth inning to Jacob Leonard.
“Me and him have a lot of history,” Bontrager said. “He is a good hitter. I was hoping to sneak one past him. I left it higher in the zone than I thought and he just put it over the fence. I just shook it off and smiled and kept pitching my game. My teammates supplied the runs and we got the win.”
Pitching his game resulted in 11 strikeouts and he got six of those in just two innings.
Bontrager got the three outs in the first inning all on strikeouts, although he did hit a batter. Then in the seventh inning, he set the Huskies down in order, again all on strikeouts.
“It was a good dub,” Bontrager said. “I felt like my velocity was falling off a little bit late, but I just powered through. I knew where my spots were and my catcher was doing a good job of helping me out. At the end I was just locating my fastball. It’s really important to get your spots. My curve is a very good supplementary pitch and it breaks well.”
Cody Jones singled in the first run of the game for IMS with a single in the second inning and the next batter, Trevor Leyden, made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Leyden reached on a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning, stole second and scored on Eli Ours single.
Jones reached base on an error in the sixth inning, advanced on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
Noah Miller doubled in the seventh and scored on an error.
“It’s always nice to add on and get one or two runs late in the game to increase that lead,” IMS coach Danny Herschberger said.
Highland committed five errors in the game.
“We had to have a talk about those errors,” said Highland assistant Clint Colbert, who was at the helm because of head coach Seth Milledge being gone. “He had a little girl and he’s still at the hospital and he is really excited about that. We wanted to get the win for him but it did not work out. ”
Highland had hit three homers in its last two games.
“We couldn’t find an answer to their pitcher which was surprising because last week we were hitting the ball really well,” Colbert said. “Maybe it was the Monday blues, but we just did not see the ball well.”
With the previous homeruns, it made the coach wonder if the Huskies are swinging for the fences.
“We had one homerun but you need more than that to win the game,” Colbert said. “The kid (Bontrager) did a good job pitching. He kept us off-balance.”
IMS is 3-1 and plays at Notre Dame today.
“That was a real clean game for us,” Herschberger said. “Blake did an awesome job of keeping baserunners off the bases. We made some nice defensive plays. We got some timely hits to put some pressure on them. It was a good win.’
Highland is 4-4 and plays at Lone Tree today.
“We had some new guys in some new positions,” Colbert said. “We are going to have to clean up those errors if we want some success this season.”