IOWA CITY — Iowa City Regina kept its focus, even though it didn’t seem easy at times.
The third-ranked Regals have visions of returning to the state semifinals. They opened the postseason against a scrappy Mid-Prairie team that took them to extra innings in the regular season. To add to it all, the district final foe was in the stands, watching from behind home plate.
“It’s really easy to let those distractions pile up,” Regina Coach Jeff Pacha said. “For us, making it as far as we did in the state tournament last year it’s really easy to let our minds go there ‘when we get to Principal Park’ but I think the maturity and experience help us stay game-to-game, pitch-to-pitch.”
Regina ignored the distractions and did enough to advance, beating Mid-Prairie 7-3 in a Class 2A District 9 semifinal Tuesday night at Regina. The Regals (25-7) advance to play Eddyville EBF (17-9) here Saturday night, starting at 7 p.m.
Regina didn’t take this contest for granted.
“We talked about it that we have to play hard every playoff game,” Regina’s Evan Suchomel said. “We can’t sit back and think that everything is going to happen for us. We have to do it ourselves.”
Suchomel helped Regina grab a 2-0 lead with an RBI single to in the bottom of the first. After Mitch Gahan’s sacrifice fly brought in Ryne Schooley for the first run, Suchomel smacked an opposite-field base hit to left, scoring Ryan Schott.
“I really look for that outside pitch,” Suchomel said. “I work well with that and that’s what I saw my first at-bat. I went for it.”
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Suchomel had three hits and Schooley and Nick Brandt added two apiece to lead the Regals, who tallied 10 hits. They faced starter Collin Gingerich again. Gingerich threw a complete eight-inning game in a regular-season loss to Regina. The Regals had better approaches this time.
“I thought our hitters did a nice job,” Pacha said. “I thought we did a good job of making an adjustment.”
Mid-Prairie (12-17) battled back to tie the game, 2-2, in the third. Karson Gingerich hit an RBI double to score Brad Tornow and scored when an outfielder misplayed Keaton Duwa’s single.
Regina responded in the fourth, pulling away with four runs. Singles by Brandt and Schooley sandwiched a walk to Jayden Kies to open the inning. The Regals got a sacrifice fly from Trent Hoogerwerf and scored on a passed ball and an error. Schooley added an RBI single in the fifth.
“We’re trying to put an emphasis on not letting our bats dictate our attitude and energy,” Pacha said. “We’re trying to have our energy and attitude dictate how our bats are going.”
Gahan improved to 7-2, throwing 6 1/3 innings. Brandt came in to close the game as Mid-Prairie had the tying run at the plate with one out.
Karson Gingerich and Tornow each had three hits to lead Mid-Prairie.
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