DES MOINES — No, it didn’t end the way they wanted it to. But that will never diminish all they accomplished.
Not by a long shot. These guys were special.
“I wouldn’t trade these last five years for anything,” North Linn’s Trevor Boge said, after his team’s 6-0 loss to Van Meter in Saturday afternoon’s Class 2A state championship baseball game at Principal Park. “I love all my teammates.”
Boge, David Seber and Jake Hilmer were the Lynx’s three seniors and won an astounding 191 games in their five-year careers. That included four trips to the state tournament.
The trio were just as lethal in basketball, helping their school to its first state championship this past season. They were a major part of why this particular baseball team got as far as it did this season. Let’s just say few expected 40 wins and a championship game appearance.
“At the start, we didn’t really think we’d be here at all,” said Seber. “I did not expect us to be in the championship game. Not at all. But we worked hard, and we got here. It’s kind of hard saying goodbye to all of these people, especially those other two seniors.”
“With the group we had last year, we just had a lot of question marks,” Hilmer added. “Then moving up a class, too. I don’t think a lot of people in our own community said ‘Well, we’re going to go to the state title game.’ Maybe it was an outside thought. But for this group to accomplish what we did ... This has been a fantastic season. I think we outkicked our coverage. Sure, we would have loved one more win. But it’s been a great season. So much to be proud of.”
North Linn (40-6) didn’t play its best game here and ran into a pitcher who might have given them an inch but not certainly any more than that. Anthony Pottorff threw a complete game, allowing seven hits but never a big one.
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The Lynx stranded the bases loaded in the third inning and two on in both the fourth and seventh.
“He just had the better day today,” Seber said.
“You’re not going to win any games scoring zero runs,” said Boge, the starting and losing pitcher. “We had seven hits, but we could just never string them together. They had hits at crucial times, and we didn’t. That’s all it was.”
Van Meter (34-3), which won its second state baseball title, scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first, then added three game breakers in the fourth. North Linn’s defense could have made a couple of plays in that inning that ended up being scored hits.
Another unearned run capped the scoring in the sixth.
“It’s been a really, really long journey. Been one hell of a ride,” said North Linn Coach Travis Griffith, through a couple of tears. “We sure didn’t play very well today, though. Getting down in the first inning really took the air out of us.”
Hilmer set the nation’s all-time career hits record recently and finished one of the best baseball-basketball careers this area will ever see by singling through the left side with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
How very appropriate.
“I’ll spend the next few hours looking back at the last five years,” he said. “I’ll probably focus on the good times. That’ll cheer myself up, help build me up a little bit. This was a state championship game, so is this really a low point? We accomplished something other kids in the state would love to have accomplished. They’d have loved to have been here today.”
“(Hilmer, Boge and Seber) set the bar pretty high,” Griffith said. “Everywhere. Baseball, basketball, how they handled themselves off the field and court. These three and the four seniors we had last year, what they’ve done for our athletics and our community ... And they did it the right way.”
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