A 7-2 win in the nightcap somewhat mitigated the opening game loss to Mount Vernon for Beckman in baseball action, June 15.
The beginning of their newly-regulated season wasn’t terrible, in that they ended at 1-1 for the night. That and the new rules for distance and lack of touching began what will be a short season.
The win came on the arm of sophomore Nick Schmidt, who went the distance and gave up just five hits, striking out six and walking two. His teammates added runs to their own five-hit game, including a three-bag home run that traveled all the way down the third-base line before being called fair for designated hitter Josh Engler, plating Nick Offerman and sub-runner Max Mullis and giving the Blazers a 7-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Blazers had scored the opening run in the third, when Logan Burchard reached on hit-by-pitch and plated on Luke Schieltz’s sacrifice fly to center. The Mustangs knotted the game in the fourth but the Blazers went ahead for good in the fourth, when Burchard’s sac fly over second scored Engler. That lead grew in the fifth, when the first three batters loaded the bags, the last on a perfect bunt from Offerman and all three plated when a high fly from Owen Huehnergarth was mishandled. Then came the homer and the Blazers were set to cruise. But their fans were not ready to concede yet, as the same team took a 9-4 lead into the final inning of the early game and let it get away, losing 13-9 when the Mustangs scored nine runs.
Runs in the bottom of the first inning gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead, when Luke Goedken and Offerman both doubled and scored. The Mustangs tied it in the top of the third but the Blazers fought back, scoring four runs in the bottom of that frame. Trent Koelker walked, stole second and third and plated on Schieltz’ hit to center. Offerman doubled to plate Schieltz and, after stealing third, scored off a passed ball during Huehnergarth’s at-bat. His sub-runner, Riley Fangman, came in when Cam Krapfl doubled, making it 6-2.
The Mustangs got one back in the fourth, negated by the first-ever varsity home run, over center, for freshman Schieltz in the bottom of the frame. After the Mustangs scored their fourth run in the top of the sixth, the Blazers padded their lead when Schieltz, reaching via double, crossed on Huehnergarth’s double. Fangman stole third and home on two passed balls for the 9-4 lead going into the last inning.
But everything unraveled in that frame. The Mustangs put 13 batters at the plate, facing three Blazer pitchers, until Krapfl finally closed them down on a ground out back to him.
For the game, Offerman took the loss with six runs scored on three hits in the last inning. Also throwing were Burchard (4-on-6), Engler (2-on-3) and Krapfl (1-on-1).
On the night, Schieltz led hitting with 3-for-6, a home run, three RBIs. Offerman went 3-for-8 with a double and four RBIs. Engler was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Krapfl and Burchard were both 2-for-5 with Burchard getting three RBIs. Adding hits were Goedken, Huehnergarth and Ryan Burchard.
Independence fell prey to effective Blazer bats in a 5-3 loss at home June 17 when the green-and-gold scored two first-inning runs, then capped that with three in the fourth. Huehnergarth netted three RBIs without getting a hit. Goedken tapped the Indee staff for a 2-for-2 outing, one a double, but ended up twisting his ankle on a play later and will be out for 2-3 weeks. Adding hits were Offerman, Krapfl (double), Boekholder and Fangman (double). Krapfl gave up three runs on three hits, walked three and fanned six.
South Tama fell prey the following night at Jenk Field, dropping 10-4 and 13-3 decisions to the Blazers. In the first game, the Trojans led in the first, only to see that disappear in the Blazer half, 3-2. The home team added runs in the second and fifth before sealing the deal with a four-run sixth.
Those 10 Blazer runs came off eight hits, with Offerman going 3-for-3, Huehnergarth 2-for-3 (triple) and Goedken, Krapfl and Jackson Oberbroeckling all adding a hit. Schieltz walked twice and scored both times. The Blazers took advantage of nine team walks. Engler got the win with four runs off six hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Ryan Burchard faced two batters, walked one and fanned one.
The second game made it 11 straight wins over the Trojans since 2015 and ended things early as well. A six-run second inning pretty much spelled defeat for the Trojans, as the Blazers went on add at least two runs in each of the next three frames. They built up those 13 runs on 14 hits, from Nate Offerman (3-for-3), Huehnergarth (2-for-2, triple), Boekholder and Jack Westhoff (2-for-3, one double each), Schieltz, Nick Offerman, Krapfl, Boekholder, Fangman and Trent Koelker. Nick Offerman went two innings and gave up no runs on one hit, striking out two. Ryan Burchard threw two innings and gave up three runs on three hits, walking one and whiffing three.
June 19 capped the week for the Blazers at home for an eight-inning, 6-5 win over the North Scott Lancers and a 5-1 early record. “North Scott is by far the best team we’ve faced this year, I think they’re like No. 9 in 4A,” said coach Fred Martin. “And this was a great game that ended on a very controversial call.
“It was the bottom of the eighth, two outs, guys on first and second, two strikes on the batter. On the next pitch, the ump raised his arm in the movement he used for strikes, stopped and called it a ball. The catcher overthrew third trying to get the guy running and the ball went into left field, we won. They are a classy program and coaches and took the call pretty well, knowing that’s the game of baseball. Their fans felt differently, with one of them catching the call on video and not happy, but the decision stood.
“Going into the game, I was concerned because we were pretty much out of pitching. I went with Logan (Burchard) who had 80 Monday night and his back-up was Bryce (Boekholder) who actually hit a guy his last time out and sent him to the hospital. Bryce was still a little shaky about that. But both of them threw a great game. Logan went into the sixth inning before Bryce came in and just really shut them down (25 pitches over the last two innings).”
“On top of that our hitting was fantastic and our fielding came through. I’ve been flipping guys all over the place for positions and they’ve all come through in amazing fashion. They are all doing the job, especially since we are such a young team. I don’t believe in all the years I’ve been with this program, even under Tommy, that we ever had two freshmen start in the varsity lineup. But we do this year and we have a sophomore behind the plate and young guys all over the place. It’s been really interesting this year.”
The Blazers took the early lead in this one, three first-inning runs and one in the second for a 4-1 advantage. The Lancers fought back, knotting it at 5-5 in the seventh, forcing the extra frame that went to the Blazers and giving them an edge in the series, 4-2, since 2012.
Huehnergarth drilled a two-run home run in 2-for-4 at the plate and Schieltz, Fangman (double) and Nick Offerman added hits.