DES MOINES — Here’s the thing with Logan Smith. He wasn’t really impressed with himself.
The Dallas Center-Grimes pitcher was about the only one feeling that way Tuesday afternoon at Principal Park. Guaranteed.
“I was a little shaky today. I wasn’t at my best,” Smith insisted, after his one-hitter ended Benton Community’s season, 1-0, in a lightning-quick Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal. “That wasn’t my best. I feel like my best is yet to come ... I feel I could be better, and I expect a lot out of myself.”
Give the kid credit for wanting to improve, even if seemingly there wasn’t a whole lot to improve upon. Smith faced one batter over the miminum, walking one and striking out nine as his second-seeded Mustangs (18-3) moved to Friday’s semifinals.
Drew Lange lined a clean single to center field leading off the Benton fifth, the only blemish against Smith, who came into the game with a 7-0 record and miniscule 0.34 earned run average. Lange was promptly erased on a 6-4-3 double play.
Smith worked quickly and moved his fastball, curveball and changeup around the zone, barely outdueling Benton’s Cade Timmerman, who matched him virtually pitch for pitch.
“(Smith) did really good just commanding the zone, pounding it over and over again,” Lange said. “We were able to put it in play, but we hit a lot of grounders, and they were able to make the plays behind him. We were hoping to maybe get on a run (offensively), but they made the plays behind him. He just kept pounding the zone and doing what he had to do.”
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“He threw three pitches and was commanding them all day,” said Benton Coach Derek Anderson. “Credit to our kids, too, because they did a good job of battling. We put the ball in play, they made some plays defensively. But, yeah, he’s a nice pitcher.”
Caleb Dicken’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the third inning provided this game’s lone run. Timmerman, who threw eight innings to get the win as Benton ousted defending 3A champ Cedar Rapids Xavier in a substate semifinal, ended up allowing just three hits in six innings.
He walked three, struck out seven and deserved better than an ‘L.’
“Coming into this, I knew it was probably going to be like Xavier, my pitching performance there” Timmerman said. “I knew I was going to have to really pound the zone today.”
This was the first trip to state since 2012 for Benton Community (13-12). It beat Xavier in extra innings and scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extras and beat South Tama in the substate finals to get here.
The Bobcats couldn’t quite get another round of late heroics. The opposing pitcher made sure of that.
“We knew it’d be a 1-0, 2-1 game,” Anderson said. “We played down to the end, had the guys we wanted up there in the seventh; 3-4-5.
“That’s the one thing about our kids, they battled ... They competed. You hate to lose a 1-0 game, but, looking back at the season, they got to have one. We had six seniors in the lineup tonight, and it’s kind of awesome that they could get some closure here. Great way to end it, coming down here. We had every intention of winning this game. You just never know what happens.”
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