SIOUX CITY – Nate Zyzda pitched a one-hit shutout and the East baseball team cruised to a 5-0 win over West in the opening round of the Class 4A substate tournament at East High Friday.
Zyzda walked four batters and struck out six.
“We know we’re going to get a good game out of Nate,” said East coach Kevin Dicus. “We’ve been talking all week about how that young man has not thrown his best game yet. What a great day to save it for in the first round of districts. We’re very confident when we put him on the bump and he threw a gem today.”
Zyzda never faced more than five batters in an inning and faced just three batters in four of the seven innings. He was quick to praise his teammates though.
“My defense played amazing behind me,” said Zyzda. “That really stood out to me. They just made amazing plays and backed me up.”
Third baseman Alec Patino and shortstop Joe Roder stuck out defensively with a few highlight plays to save hits. Roder had a diving catch on a line drive to end the third inning. Then with one out in the top of the fourth, Patino and Roder made stops on back-to-back plays to get out of the inning. Patino made a diving stop on a ground ball and threw the runner out at first. On the next at-bat, Roder made a long run to scoop up a ball hit up the middle and fired to first to get the runner out in time and end the inning.
Zyzda appreciated the help from his defense and thought the plays were ESPN worthy.
“They would definitely be on it,” said Zyzda. “Top 10 for sure. It was awesome.”
“We preach pitching and defense,” said Dicus. “Pitching and defense wins championships. We feel we can shut people out. We think we can score one run and maybe win the ball game. My hat’s off to the kids. They played well.”
East (24-13) may have only needed one run, but the Black Raiders tossed in a few more for good measure.
After scoring one run in the second inning, a Rafi Mejia single to score Kyle Burns, East scored three more runs in the fourth. Zyzda hit a leadoff single then scored on a triple from Patino. Two batters later, Burns hit an RBI single to score Patino. Burns stole second, then scored on a double from Mejia.
East, the regular season champions of the Missouri River Activities Conference, added a final run in the bottom of the sixth. Burns hit a lead-off single then was bunted over to second by Mejia. Two batters later, Roder hit into a fielder’s choice. Burns caught the West defense napping on the throw to first and rounded third and scored.
“Average wise, he’s not hitting in the .350s or .400s,” said Dicus on Burns. “That young man’s had some clutch hits in clutch situations and huge RBIs. He’s got to be pushing 30 RBIs.”
Dicus wasn’t wrong. Burns finished the game going 3-for-3 from the plate with a double and an RBI, giving him 27 RBIs on the season.
West’s lone hit came in the second inning. With a runner on first, Chase Antle hit a two-out single. Zyzda threw a wild pitch to the next batter that moved the runners to second and third, but he induced a groundout to get out of the inning without allowing any runs.
West ends its season at 16-24.
East plays next on Monday against an opponent to be determined later.
“We talk to our kids everyday about how in the postseason we want to live for one more day and by golly, we’ve got one more day of breath,” said Dicus. “Postseason wins are big whether it’s against West, West Des Moines Valley or West Des Moines Dowling. It doesn’t matter. Postseason wins are huge. You take them one day at a time and you live for one more day and that’s our goal. We know we play Monday. We’ll show up and play Monday and hopefully get one more day of breath.”