VAN METER – The Raiders ran into Class 2A No. 5 Van Meter Tuesday night, cutting their season short at the hands of the Bulldogs in a 7-0 loss.
The Raiders close out the season with a record of 14-6 after kicking off its season more than two weeks after the competition. In Pride of Iowa Conference play, Mount Ayr was 10-3.
“Overall the boys had a great season,” said co-head coach Chris Elwood. “We lose Connor Eaton who has been huge for us this year, but with everyone coming back for next year we’re looking for big things and hope that we can be a tough team next year.”
Eaton finished the season with an on-base percentage over .500, amassing 27 hits in 66 at-bats this season. He stole 26 bases.
Plan of attack
The plan of attack against starting pitcher Anthony Potthoff was to jump on Van Meter early and to not fall into pitcher’s counts.
“Our game plan going in was to be aggressive,” said Elwood. “Our approach was to try and stay out of a two-strike situation. The kids came up and hit they ball and they (Van Meter) made some good defensive plays.”
Multiple hard hit balls off the Raider bats were hit to the left side of the infield, keeping the shortstop and the third baseman busy for much of the night.
“I’m pleased with our offensive approach. I thought we did a good job and the guys came up and they battled. They weren’t intimidated whatsoever,” said Elwood.
The Raiders had five hits, all singles. Cayden Lambert, Zach Doster, Keelan Klommhaus and Connor Eaton each registered hits in the loss. Eaton had two, going 2-for-3.
The closest Mount Ayr came to plating a run was in the sixth inning, with Keelan Klommhaus getting stranded 90 feet away to end the inning.
The difficulty of finding extra-base hits against Potthoff was not entirely due to his strikeout stuff as the Raiders struck out five times in the loss.
“I think we had five strikeouts, and if you had told me before the game that we’d keep it to five strikeouts I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” said Elwood.
Defensively, the Raiders struggled on Van Meter’s smooth and pristine ball field. Five errors from the Raider defense led to Van Meter getting second chances with two outs and runners on base.
“Five errors. ... It’s amazing we kept it at 7-0 to be honest with you,” said Elwood. “If you looked at the score when it was 7-0 after the third inning, I challenged the guys to play a full seven innings and they did.”
On the mound Isaac Grose struck out four in 3 1/3 innings of work. He was relieved by Dawson Swank. Swank finished the game off, striking out two.
The duo of Grose and Swank combined for eight walks on the bump.
Elwood remarked that the boys worked themselves into tough situations with runners on base and were able to work out of them without allowing said baserunners to score.
“Obviously we hate that we lost,” said Elwood. “We knew it was going to be a monumental effort to take down Van Meter and we knew we’d have to play a perfect game and we played far from a perfect game.”
Van Meter plays Interstate 35 Saturday at 7 p.m. in Van Meter in the Class 2A District 14 finals.
Van Meter 7, Mount Ayr 0
R H E
MA 000 000 0 — 0 5 5
VM 043 000 0 — 7 6 0
Mount Ayr: Isaac Grose 4K 5BB, Dawson Swank (4) 2K 3BB and Kolben Klommhaus. Van Meter: Anthony Potthoff 5K and Bryce Cole. W — Potthoff. L – Grose (2-3). HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — none. RBI — WM: Brett Berg (3), Zach Pleggenkuhle (2), Jacob Blomgren.