When Beckman’s Jackson Oberbroeckling drilled a double in the bottom of the fifth inning, it was enough to score two teammates and take a 5-3 lead on the Cascade Cougars, a lead they didn’t relinquish before winning 8-3 to advance in district final action July 17 at Jenk Field. The win sends the Blazers to Solon July 20 to face Camanche in a substate showdown.
Oberbroeckling’s stand-up double plated both Owen Huehnergarth and Nate Offerman, who had reached via walks from Cougar hurler Jack Carr. It also chased Carr for Eli Green, who immediately fanned Bryce Boekholder to end the frame. But the damage had been done.
The Cougars, who racked up a surprising six errors in the game, saw one of them allow Blazer Logan Burchard to reach on a dropped third strike in their half of the sixth. When Luke Schieltz got a walk from Green, Nick Schmidt loaded the bases on another Cougar error. Burchard scored when Huehnergarth reached safely on yet another Cougar miscue to make it 6-3 and Schieltz and Schmidt scored the final Blazer runs on a double from Offerman, 8-3.
In the top of the seventh, Blazer reliever Bryce Boekholder coaxed Green into a fly-out back to the mound. Both Kaleb Topping and Tanner Simon reached via hits and a Blazer error, but Boekholder fanned the last two batters, Cade Rausch and Mason Otting, to preserve the win.
The game began with a three-run Blazer first, as Schieltz was hit-by-pitch and stole second. After Schmidt whiffed, Nick Offerman drew a walk. Huehnergarth reached via error but was thrown out at second on Nate Offerman’s single, with Schieltz plating the first run. Oberbroekcling drilled a base hit to plate Nick Offerman and Boelkholder beat a called third strike to first, scoring Nate Offerman, before Burchard drew another walk. A final whiff of Luke Sigwarth gave the Blazers a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, the Cougars got one back when Otting scored on a single from Ty Frasher.
In the third, they got two more to knot the game at 3-3. Simon reached on a two-out single and scored on a called balk on Burchard. Rausch drilled a single and his courtesy runner Cass Hoffman scored when Otting hit one to right field. The balls chased Burchard for Boekholder who promptly fanned Will Hosch to end the inning.
For the ensuing two innings, both pitchers controlled the game, with Carr seeing three Blazers in the bottom of the third, Boekholder four in the top of the fourth, Carr four in the bottom of that frame and Boekholder four in the top of the next, setting up the decisive Blazer fifth.
“This was an interesting game,” smiled coach Fred Martin. “This was not the traditional Cascade team we are used to seeing. You know when errors start to come, sometimes it’s really hard to stop them. And we took advantage like we were supposed to. On top of that we got some key hits at crucial times. Jackson and Nate hit shots that we really needed.
“Nick made a super catch in center. Had that ball fallen, it would probably have tied the game with three runs. And the balks, well, this level of umping is up from the rest of the season and they were used to calling them. Sometimes in the rest of the season, you get away with things like that. No more.
“We got enough throws from Logan to get him through the innings we needed and Bryce did a great job when he got in there. And at the end of the game, we probably could have pulled him to keep him for Tuesday night, but he was cooking and doing the job. We’ve got enough staff to put good throwers in there Tuesday anyway so we let him get the game for us.
“We’ve got some info on Camanche and we can be confident going in against them. We definitely need to play our best ball but that’s what this time of the season calls for. We’ve got to be positive.”
For the game, Oberbroeckling and Nate Offerman were both 2-for-3, with two and three RBIs. Huehnergarth went 0-for-3 but racked up two RBIs with his walk. Sigwarth and Boekholder added hits with Boekholder getting an RBI. Burchard went 2.2 innings, allowing five hits, three runs, whiffing one and passing one. Boekholder got the win with 4.1 innings of work, giving up no runs on four hits and four strikeouts.