INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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DYERSVILLE — Anytime Dyersville Beckman and Cascade meet on a baseball diamond you can expect excitement and entertainment.
It’s no surprise that is exactly what they delivered with a district title on the line.
Third-ranked Beckman erupted for five runs in the fifth inning and claimed a 9-5 win over No. 9 Cascade last night for the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A district 9 championship in front of a large crowd at Tom Jenk Field.
Beckman (26-13) will face fourth-ranked Wilton (26-6) in a substate final Tuesday at Linn-Mar. The Blazers had to battle to remain in the hunt for a third straight 2A state crown.
“It feels great to get the win and move on,” Beckman’s starting pitcher Riley Vorwald said. “Everybody played defense and it was a great team win.”
The Blazers turn a hitting drought into a flood of offense in the fifth, trailing the Cougars by two. Mitch Steger tallied Beckman’s first hit with a leadoff double to right field, but looked like he might get stranded, standing on third with two outs.
Logan Welling walked and pinch runner Sam Stelken stole second. Vorwald and Sam Deutmeyer followed with consecutive RBI singles to tie the game. Ben Loeffelholz hit a looper that dropped in shallow center, scoring two and putting the Blazers up for good.
“Coach told me he was going to throw me strikes,” Loeffelholz said. “The first one passed and I was down on myself. Saw the second one and it kind of jammed me but I got it out there and it worked.”
Beckman finally strung hits together, which Cascade did earlier in the game to take a 1-0 lead in the first and a 4-2 edge in the top of the fifth.
“Eventually we got some key hits,” said Beckman Coach Tom Jenk Jr., who improved to 26-13 in district finals. “That is what it takes, finding the holes.”
Beckman added two more in the sixth, taking advantage of four Cascade errors. The Cougars had seven miscues total, including two in the first that led to the Blazers first lead.
“They took advantage of what we gave them,” Cascade Coach Roamn Hummel said. “We didn’t get the hits when we needed to.”
Cascade received three straight singles from Derek Lieurance, Ben Weber and Reis Rausch to take an early lead in the first. They stormed back to take the lead in the top of the fifth with a leadoff walk from Lieurance and singles from Weber, Nolan Weber, Trace Hoffman and Mitch Recker in a five-batter stretch.
The Cougars threatened late but only managed one run in the sixth, that ended with bases loaded when Beckman’s Tony Anstoetter tracked down a shot off Recker’s bat at the left-field fence.
Cascade fell to 30-9 but returns a lot of young talent from a team with just three seniors.
“We have a good group of kids coming back,” Hummel said. “Hopefully, things like this will make them hungry and make go into the off-season, get a lot better and say this is our opportunity to get this done.”
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