Prep Baseball

Manchester welcomes North Linn with another state banner

Lynx advance to state baseball with 8-2 win over Wapsie Valley

MANCHESTER — Call it a little déjà vu mixed with a bit of a “home away from home” feel.

North Linn has done well in previous trips to Manchester, clinching the baseball program’s first state berth there in 2015. The town has hosted the Lynx for similar victories in other sports as well.

Lynx senior Ryan Miller and some of his teammates liked their chances for success when they learned the site of a possible substate final.

“We were like, ‘we have good odds of winning there’” Miller said. “We won here in basketball. We won here in baseball that year.

“We’re pretty familiar with this field and stuff. We knew with how we were playing and hitting, coming into this game, we knew we’d really have to get shaken to not play well.”

Just like four years ago, North Linn left Beckman Baseball/Softball Complex with a banner and another state berth under its belt. The third-ranked Lynx scored three runs in the first, which was enough for starter Jake Hilmer, and cruised to an 8-2 victory in the Class 1A Substate 4 final Tuesday night.

“I don’t think it gets old,” North Linn Coach Travis Griffith said. “I think our kids are way more composed.

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“They are a completely different team. Six of the same players are here, but I think they’re composed. They come in knowing they are going to play well and we have a chance to win this game. That night was we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

North Linn (40-3) earned its second straight trip to Principal Park in Des Moines and the third in the last four seasons.

“It’s the last go-round with this group,” Hilmer said. “At this point, you don’t want this to be done. You don’t want this to be your last game. You want to keep playing with this group. You’ve played so many games with them.”

The Lynx jumped on Wapsie Valley from the start. Miller, Hilmer and Sean Boardman opened the bottom of the first with three consecutive singles. Hilmer drove in Miller and scored on Boardman’s base hit. David Seber added a sacrifice fly to plate Boardman for a 3-0 lead.

“We came in ready to go,” Miller said. “The first inning Jake and I both got on, which when we do that we can score because we take so many bases. It was pretty reassuring that we were hitting the ball and putting pressure on them. It was a good team win.”

North Linn continued to add runs in four of the next five innings, including the two-run fifth and getting a solo home run from Boardman in the sixth. The Lynx pounded 11 hits with a game-high four from Trevor Boge. Hilmer and Boardman had two hits apiece.

Boge has overcome some hitting struggles, putting in extra work with Griffith.

“We went out and hit and it has been a lot of repetition,” Boge said. “Ever since then I’ve been swinging the bat a lot better.”

Hilmer was solid on the mound, throwing 5 2/3 innings and striking out eight. Seber worked the last 1 1/3 innings, as the Lynx relied on their strengths of good pitching and defense.

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“Jake got better as the game went on,” Griffith said. “He’s still mad at me that I pulled him out after 90 pitches. It shouldn’t be that easy that you get a three-run lead and you have confidence that you’ll hold it.”

Wapsie Valley (16-13) snapped North Linn’s 18-inning scoreless streak this postseason. Trevor Sauerbrei led Wapsie Valley with a hit and an RBI.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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