116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — Luke Eldred looked sharp as ever for Mount Vernon, but Luke Ira's Solon Spartans outdid the 10th-ranked Mustangs, 1-0, in a pitchers' duel. Eldred struck out 12 over seven innings of work, but the Solon sophomore, a varsity player since eighth grade, got just enough run support to outdo the Dallas Baptist-bound Eldred in a Class 3A district final Monday night.
Solon (20-20) will take on No. 4 Fairfield (27-7) on Wednesday at Washington (Iowa) for a trip to state.
Ira reached on a wild-pitch strikeout to lead off the game for Solon, and Tyler Lindebaum knocked him in with an RBI single two batters later for the game's only run.
He shut down the Mustangs over the remainder of the game, though not without being tested.
Mount Vernon put runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth inning after Ira hit them both, but he worked out of it with a groundout.
After he hit the second batter of the seventh inning, he induced a 6-4-3 double play, featuring the splits from Linderbaum at first base, to end the game.
'It was nerve racking,' Ira said. 'Ground ball double play, and that's exactly what happened.'
The Mustangs put runners on second and third in the first inning as well, but Ira made a diving catch off the mound to save a sacrifice bunt and got two groundouts.
Ira got help from Spencer Wegmann in the fifth inning as well. Wegmann crashed into the wall at full extension in left field to save an extra-base hit and potential game-tying run.
'I heard my teammate Kendrick (Harris) in center field say 'I've got the wall, but I knew I had to make the play,' Wegmann said. 'I helped my friend Luke (Ira) out pitching.'
Solon Coach Keith McSweeny praised his starting pitcher, and noted his team not feeling the pressure in the dugout.
'We pitched extremely well. They touched him up the first time they saw him in May, for him to come out and two-hit them, shut them out is a gutsy performance,' McSweeny said. 'At the end of the day, why not us? That's been our mantra.'