SOLON — If hitters do not get to Jared Townsend in the first couple of innings, they likely never will.
The Wilton pitcher allowed fourth-ranked Dyersville Beckman to load the bases in each of the first two frames. In both instances, he escaped without allowing a run.
“I just went back to the basics,” Townsend said after the fifth-ranked Beavers defeated Beckman, 4-0, in a Class 2A prep baseball substate final Tuesday night at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area. “I just went back to the stuff I worked on since last winter. … I did my best, just tried to battle through everything. I knew my teammates had my back.”
Townsend (8-2) allowed just four hits in 5 1/3 shutout innings. The left-handed junior walked five batters and posted 12 strikeouts.
Wilton has not been scored upon in three postseason games.
The victory sends Wilton (25-5) to the state tournament for the first time since its last state championship season in 2005. Now in his 21st season leading the Beavers, Coach Jake Souhrada will take a second team to Principal Park in Des Moines, where the 2A state bracket begins play on Monday.
“This is going to be a group that is going to go out and play good defense and pitch and hopefully lead us to some victories out there,” Souhrada said.
The game was scoreless until the top of the sixth inning when Wilton loaded the bases with one out against Beckman starter C.J. McDermott (5-4).
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Junior Chantz Stevens singled home the opening run. McDermott was pulled and moved to third base, where he immediately fielded a ground ball off the bat of Wilton junior Brayton Wade. McDermott threw wide to first base, which allowed all three base runners to score for a 4-0 Wilton advantage.
Wilton junior relief pitcher Cory Anderson retired five of the six batters he faced.
One year after winning an emotional state championship as longtime coach Tom Jenk Jr. battled a brain cancer that took his life two months later, Beckman retired at 29-12.
“My seniors, they have to look back at their careers,” Beckman Coach Fred Martin said. “They got to be coached by a great man, Tommy Jenk, and to always hold that in their hearts. It was a really good season.”
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