ORANGE CITY, Iowa | As the old saying goes, when tournament time comes around, it’s all about winning and advancing.
Therefore, despite a rather uninspiring performance, the Sioux City Bishop Heelan baseball team isn’t about to take back a 10-6 victory over Storm Lake in an Iowa Class 3A district opener here Friday.
“I felt like we were tight, especially early on,” Heelan Coach Andy Osborne said. “(Andrew) Clay was kind of short-arming and wasn’t real efficient but he settled in like we knew he would. It’s survive and advance at this point.”
No. 8 Heelan was outhit 9-5, but took advantage of seven walks and three hit batsmen to advance to a district final here Monday at 7 p.m. The Crusaders, now 29-12 after their sixth consecutive win, will play rival Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
Clinging to a 5-3 lead, the Crusaders broke it open with a four-run fourth, keyed by Jackson Boever’s bases-clearing double. Boever, one of three players in the Heelan lineup batting over .400, hit one to the gap in right-center with the bases loaded, making it 9-3 and drove in another run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
“I knew I had to come through with the bases loaded because it was a close game at that point,”Boever said. “I just had to blow it open.”
To their credit, the youthful Tornadoes of Coach Ben Seaman, with nary a senior on their roster, didn’t throw in the towel after falling behind 10-3. Sophomore Kayfrin Pelop rapped an RBI single and eighth-grader Mark Eddie plated another run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, while junior Brayden Hoops led off the seventh with a hit and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Storm Lake starting pitcher Hoops walked two and gave up a pair of doubles in the first inning. Hunter Hope knocked in two with one of the two-baggers and Brenden Roder lofted a sacrifice fly, one of his two RBIs.
Storm Lake, which left runners on first and third in the first, tied it with three runs in the second. Trace Turner led off with a walk and P.J. Peters beat out a bunt single before Heelan pitcher Andrew Clay fielded another bunt by Ethan James and threw wide of first, allowing Turner to score.
Manny Chance lined an RBI single up the middle and Eddie drove in the tying run on a ground out.
Heelan’s Boever reached on an error to start the bottom of the third, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a Hope single. That gave the Crusaders the lead for good, although it turned out to be a little more tense than most expected.
“It’s a little different than a year ago when we came in (to tournaments) not having a ton of expectations after the regular season,” Osborne said. “Obviously that’s flipped a little bit but I like this club and I think we can do some good things. I expect we’ll play a little bit better Monday than we did tonight.”
Winning pitcher Clay allowed eight hits, walked two and hit a batter in six innings. Mason Heaton worked the seventh.
Storm Lake ended its season with a 7-17 record but finished the game with an eighth grade battery of pitcher Eddie and catcher Ben Raveling.