116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MANCHESTER - Dyersville Beckman pitcher Jackson Bennett said he was a bit nervous ahead of his game Tuesday night.
He shouldn't have been.
No. 7 Beckman (28-11) dominated No. 6 Cascade (25-7) in a Class 2A substate final 5-0, behind a very solid night from Bennett in Manchester, earning the Blazers a trip to the state tournament.
'We knew going into the game that was going to be the toughest thing for us, trying to score runs,” Cascade Coach Roamm Hummel said. 'We've seen about three or four guys this year that are similar to Bennett, and we struggled against them. Going into this, that was kind of the worry … our guys just weren't able to get it done.”
The Blazers got off to a hot start almost instantly when second baseman Riley LeGrand hit a solo home run as the second batter of the game.
They quickly built on the lead, adding one run in the second on an RBI double from Connor McDermott, then two more runs in the third and another in the forth.
Almost as quickly as it had started, Beckman easily put five runs on the board - all while Bennett stifled the Cougars' offense.
'Really good pitchers don't give you a lot,” Hummel said. 'We didn't even really - we had like one, two (runners) on second base is all. That makes it really hard.”
Bennett gave up just two hits on Tuesday night, rarely allowing a Cougar to get on base.
When Cascade did have its chances to score or put the ball in play, though, the rest of the Beckman defense was there. In the fifth inning, Beckman center fielder Sam Stelken completely robbed a Cascade home run - one that could have set the Cougars' run off - catching it over the outfield fence for the out.
'I really didn't even know where I was,” Stelken said. 'It's all on my left fielder. He told me where I was. I got my face on the wall a little bit. It kind of hurt.”
With the win, Beckman advances to the Class 2A state quarterfinals Monday at Principal Park in Des Moines. And after their performance against Cascade, both Bennett and Stelken said they like where they sit heading into the final stretch.
For the Cougars, though, Hummel couldn't be too upset. He said he's very content with where they ended up.
'In my mind, they really exceeded expectations,” Hummel said. 'We got to this same position last year, then we lose our best pitcher, one of the best guys in the state last year, and we still put ourselves in a spot with the opportunity to get to the state tournament. I just told them how proud I was of that and with the guys who stuck with it and just gave ourselves a chance the entire year.”
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