116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Dyersville Beckman parlayed timely hitting and key defensive plays into a victory.
The Blazers did it against a ranked foe as well.
Nick Schmidt rapped a single to drive in Luke Sigwarth for the winning run in the top of the ninth, helping Class 2A fifth-ranked Dyersville Beckman top 3A No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 8-7, in an extra-innings thriller Wednesday night at Ken Charipar Field.
Beckman built a 7-1 lead, withstood Xavier’s rally to tie it in the bottom of the sixth and Sigwarth thwarted one more threat to earn the save with the winning run on base.
“They pulled it out,” Beckman Coach Fred Martin said. “It was one whale of a game.”
The Blazers (18-10) never trailed but suffered a four-inning drought before pushing across the final score. Luke Sigwarth drew a one-out walk and stole second. Nick Schmidt stepped to the plate with two on and two out. He delivered a base hit through the left side just beyond the glove of a diving defender.
“My biggest pitch has been the inside pitch,” Schmidt said. “I saw it right out of his hand and my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. I just tried to put a good barrel on it and I did.”
Interestingly, he had a similar opportunity in the seventh but grounded out to the shortstop. Schmidt didn’t want to miss another chance and took advantage at a crucial moment.
“I knew if he threw that same pitch I had to capitalize,” Schmidt said. “I knew if I got that inside pitch again I was going to punch it through.”
Sigwarth, a sophomore, came in to close the game. He notched the final two outs, getting a groundball for a force at third and ending the game with a strikeout.
“He throws hard,” Martin said. “What an experience for him.”
Owen Huehnergarth made a considerable impact at the plate, behind the plate and on the mound for the Blazers. Huehnergarth smacked a three-run double in the first inning for a 3-0 lead.
“We always preach two-strike hitting and hitting the other way,” Huehnergarth said. “Trying to put it in play and make the other guys field. I saw a pitch I liked and took it the other way. It turned out pretty good.”
The senior catcher also showed off his arm, picking off the Saints’ leadoff runner in the bottom of the first.
After catching the first five innings, Huehnergarth took the mound after Xavier pulled within 7-6 in the sixth. He got the final two outs and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings before going back behind the plate to catch Sigwarth. Huehnergarth earned the win.
“He'll do anything I ask,” Martin said of Huehnergarth. “He's a coach's dream. He'll do anything for you that you ask. If I had him come back out, he'd probably come back out and throw again if I asked him.
“He's a gamer and loves the game.”
The toll that catching and pitching takes on a player’s legs makes doing both in the same game, even the same day a tough task. Add the fact that he’s a full-time catcher in the midst of Beckman’s packed schedule and the feat was even more impressive.
“I just want to get a win that bad, I guess,” Huehnergarth said. “Every week is a rough week with how many games we play. It's a grind to get through it and I just want to see how many wins we can get in a season.”
Beckman doubled its lead in the three-run third, taking advantage of a couple errors to score two and capping the frame with Schmidt’s RBI triple to score Huehnergarth. Nate Offerman added a run-scoring single to bring in Luke Schieltz in the fourth.
The Blazers’ defense held off the Saints twice late. In the seventh, Xavier put the leadoff runner on base and followed with a sacrifice to move the runner into scoring position. The runner attempted to advance all the way to third on the play, but Logan Burchard threw to freshman third baseman Dylan Recker, who was out of position but recovered to make a diving tag.
“Our coverage wasn't quite right on that,” Martin said. “It was a great throw over there to put it right there and he made a couple really nice plays. This is the first time he's been on varsity. It's the first time he's suited up tonight and he did a great job at third base.”
The biggest play came the next inning. Xavier had two on with one out. Andrew Hamlett hit a single to right field, giving Xavier a chance to plate the winning run. Lane Kramer threw the runner out at home on a bang-bang play.
“The big one was throwing out the guy at home plate,” Martin said. “That was huge. It was a great throw there.
“Our defense was strong.”
Xavier managed two runs through the first five innings against starter Wyatt Schulte. Hamlett drove in both runs with sacrifice flies in the third and fifth innings. The Saints (21-7) sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring five in the sixth. Preston Lang had a two-run single and Maverick Burger and Hamlett added RBI singles that tied the game.
Hamlett finished with two hits and three RBIs and Carlos Baez-Perez had two hits for the Saints.