DES MOINES — Sean Boardman has driven in more North Linn runners than anyone this season.
He was the perfect batter to step to the plate when the Lynx needed to bring a couple home.
Boardman delivered a bases-clearing triple, powering third-ranked North Linn to a 6-3 victory in the Class 1A state baseball quarterfinals Saturday at Principal Park. The Lynx (41-3) advance to the semifinals against Tri-Rivers Conference foe and second-seeded Lisbon (35-0) Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Boardman produced his only hit with North Linn down a run in the bottom of the fifth. By the time he came out of his headfirst slide at third, he had his third triple this season and gave the Lynx the lead for good.
“When I hit it, I saw the right fielder turn so I just got going,” said Boardman, who has 58 RBIs this year. “I saw the ball land on the warning track and I saw them bobble it and I knew I was getting to third.
“It felt great to unhook the plow and get going.”
Boardman had guessed wrong on a curveball for the second strike. He adjusted and anticipated fastball, going with an outside pitch and burning the right fielder.
“He did a nice job of timing it up,” North Linn Travis Griffith said. “He had the right approach. He was trying to drive it to the right side and get us a run. He was able to stay behind it and hit the heck out of it.”
Boardman scored on a single from Brad Pflughaupt, who scored on one of St. Mary’s four errors, for a 6-2 lead. St. Mary’s miscues also led to the game’s first run. Ryan Miller scored when Boardman reached on a bad throw.
The five-run inning was set up with North Linn’s trademark athleticism, stringing together three straight one-out hits. Only one of them reached the outfield.
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“That’s how we play,” Griffith said. “Our athleticism and speed made that rally.”
Nathan McEnany opened the frame with a single to right field. Miller followed with an infield hit and then Jake Hilmer executed a perfect bunt to reach and set the table for Boardman.
“I read that the third baseman was back and he was going to have to make a judgment on whether to come get it or cover third,” Hilmer said. “I had a lot of trust in Sean Boardman. I knew if I got it down it was going to be a tough play.”
Hilmer earned the win on the mound, throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief and teaming with starter Ryan Miller on a six-hitter. Miller was going strong until St. Mary’s strung four two-out hits together in the top of the fifth, taking a 2-1 lead on RBI singles from Derrick Schorg and Blaine Harpenau.
“I thought it was going to be his game through seven, but I’m staying ready the whole time, in case something happens,” Hilmer said. “He’s enough of a competitor to give the ball to me and give me a chance to finish it off. The defense was there when we needed it.”
North Linn reached the semifinals for the second time in school history and earned a rematch with Lisbon. The Lions swept the Lynx, 1-0 and 4-3, on June 11 at Troy Mills. The Tri-Rivers Conference is assured of a state finalist next Saturday.
“Either of those ballgames could have went either way,” Boardman said. “I didn’t think we were playing our best ball at that time … since then we’ve been playing completely different ball.
“Ryan and Jake are pitching their best right now. Our bats are coming around, so it should be a good game.”
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