DES MOINES — Lisbon Coach Travis Bennett had faith in his team, but even he had an uneasy feeling late in the game.
Don Bosco recorded the only timely hit to that point and the Lions’ most dangerous hitter was retired, leaving five outs left to rally.
The Lions received back-to-back hits from Hagen Waters and Bryce Werderman and Tyson Williams’ deep sacrifice fly drove in the winning run, leading second-seeded Lisbon to a 2-1 victory over the Dons in the Class 1A state quarterfinals Saturday at Principal Park.
Lisbon advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2012 when Werderman threw out the potential tying run on a steal attempt of second to end the game.
“That is the kind of stuff you need to win games like this,” Bennett said. “You get down here you have to expect close games. You can’t expect to beat teams like eight or nine runs like we have been doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a close game or not these guys are in it to the end and they will keep battling.”
Lisbon (35-0) trailed 1-0 before the game’s most crucial sequence in the bottom of the sixth. Don Bosco (25-9) appeared to clear a major hurdle, coaxing a flyout from the Lions’ Austin Krob and bringing up Waters.
Waters provided the spark, lacing a single to left. Werderman fanned the flames with a triple to left-center field, chasing Waters home and tying the game, 1-1. The shot was Werderman’s third triple of the season and his 15th extra-base hit.
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“It was do or die. Just go,” said Werderman, who laughed when he added, “I don’t run for myself so I had to get as far as I could by myself.”
Werderman said his contribution felt good, soothing the sting of his performance in the Lions’ state quarterfinal loss a year ago. He has shown heart all season.
“What a clutch hit,” Bennett said. “Then, he comes back and throws a guy out at second to end the game. He’s been a tough kid for us all year and he showed it today how tough he can really get when everything is on the line.”
Werderman’s aggressive base running proved to be key, putting the go-ahead run 90 feet away with one out. The starting catcher made a gutsy move, continuing to third despite being a few strides past second when the relay throw reached the cutoff.
“He just put his head down and ran,” Bennett said. “I was just making sure that Hagen scored and I see Bryce coming around second with his head down. He wanted that triple and luckily the cutoff guy bobbled it for a half-second.”
The job wasn’t finished. Williams knew the situation and exactly what the team needed. He drilled a flyball near the warning track in center field. Courtesy runner Devyn Decious tagged and scored, making it 2-1.
“I knew the infield was in and had to get one up over their head and knock in the runner with a sac fly or however I could do it,” Williams said. “You have to put it in play at that point.”
The Lions used strong outings by starter Brett Givens and Austin Krob, who threw four innings of relief. Krob entered the game with a runner on second and none out in the fourth. Krob struck out the first two batters faced, giving up an RBI double to Bryce Schares.
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Krob was nearly untouchable after the only hit he allowed. He retired nine straight batters, finishing with nine strikeouts, before a walk that led to the final out caught stealing.
“That motivated me more to get going,” Krob said of the hit. “I wasn’t really feeling my stuff right away. The warmup that next inning I was like I have to get going. That was my thing.”
The Lions remain the state’s lone unbeaten team. They have been focused on reaching this point since falling short in extra innings in the 2017 quarterfinals.
“This has been our goal all year is to get back to this moment and surpass it,” Bennett said. “We did and we hope we can keep going.”
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