DES MOINES — You’ve gotta play clean baseball to win at the state tournament, and Clear Creek Amana didn’t play quite clean enough.
A couple of poor innings defensively allowed Norwalk to sink the Clippers, 4-3, in a Class 3A quarterfinal at Principal Park.
This was a historic 2020 season for CCA, and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The school qualified for state for the first time, finishing things up 16-6.
Sure, this one hurt. But the positives way outweigh the negatives overall.
“When you look back at it, I do feel like (mistakes) were the difference,” said CCA’s T.J. Bollers. “There were some plays that we should have made that we didn’t. A lot of that just could have been, I don’t know, because we’re new to this. This is our first time, the first time on the biggest stage. We were the guys who finally broke into it. Maybe we just weren’t the guys to take it far.”
Bollers, the much-heralded Wisconsin football commit, smashed a run-scoring double with two outs in the top of the first inning to put fifth-seeded Clear Creek Amana on top early. But a dropped fly ball leading off contributed to a two-run second that gave fourth-seeded Norwalk (18-5) the lead.
Then with things tied at 2-2 in the fourth, a pair of errors (one fielding, one throwing) and a wild pitch produced two runs for Norwalk that ended up being the difference. Three of the Warriors’ runs in the game were unearned, making CCA starting pitcher Brock Reade a tough-luck loser.
He went the whole way, allowing five hits and three walks, striking out five.
“We’ve kind of been on and off,” said Clear Creek Amana catcher Grant Jensen. “When we play good games, we beat good teams. We just didn’t hit it right today.”
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CCA made it interesting in the seventh. A Reade walk and Jensen hit by pitch started things, then Ben Swails singled through the left side to load the bases with one away.
A run scored on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Casey Ogden to make it 4-3, but, after a stolen base put the go-ahead run on second base, Norwalk reliever Drew Leek got Tyler Schrepfer to pop to short to end it. That was Leek’s third save, with starter Tucker Christensen picking up the victory.
“With our kids, they’ve just found ways to get it done,” said Norwalk Coach Chad Wiedmann. “They don’t get too flustered by things. We’ve got a lot of seniors, all of our infielders are returning starters. So they’re comfortable with it. They know what they can do. In situations like today, they get it done for us.”
Sophomore shortstop Sam Young was hit in the side of the helmet in the second inning and had to leave the game.
“People will look to the seventh inning as make or break,” said first-year CCA Coach Nick Zumsande. “But, to me, that ballgame was won in the middle innings. Their guy settled down a little bit and pitched a real good game. They got some pretty good relief efforts. I thought Brock settled in for us, too, but we made too many defensive miscues. For me, that’s where we got beat in this game. That and not picking runners up when we had opportunities.”
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