After building a 6-0 lead in the first two innings, Estherville Lincoln Central held on for an 8-5 victory over Okoboji in Tuesday's second round Class 2A District 2 game at Hess-Limberg Field.
"We talked all week about getting an early lead," said ELC coach Lee Evans. "We came ready to play and found a way to set the tone."
ELC (15-9) advances to Saturday's game against Emmetsburg (17-11), an 9-8, 12-inning victor over Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn.
ELC senior Billy Snyder pitched five innings in getting the 8-5 victory against Okoboji in a Class 2A District 2 game at Hess-Limberg Field in Estherville on Tuesday.
Photo by David Swartz
Coach Evans said despite ELC sweeping Emmetsburg during two regular-season Lakes Conference games (4-1 and 11-0), the Midgets can't take the E'Hawks lightly.
"The first time was neck and neck," said Evans. "We need to play good baseball to move on."
Saturday's game starts at 7 p.m. at Hess-Limberg Field in Estherville.
In Class 2A District 1, Sioux Center and Hinton will play for the other side of the substate bracket. The winners will play at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 22 at Spirit Lake for the right to go to the state tournament.
On Tuesday, the Midgets started well against Okoboji. While the Pioneers' Houston Hawkins led off with a single. He was thrown out stealing second by catcher Corey Reeves for the second out. ELC starter Billy Snyder then recorded his second strikeout for a short inning.
In the bottom half of the first inning, Riley Strenge was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a bunt single by Alec Wycoff. Strenge scored as Snyder grounded out to the shortstop, as ELC led 1-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, Okoboji starter Holt Hunziker struggled as he walked three of the first four ELC batters-Trey Jacobson, Reeves and Dan Christensen. Jacobson scored as Strenge reached on an error by the second baseman. With the bases loaded, Wycoff drew a walk to drive in one run and Snyder hit a sacrifice fly to center to score another. A single by Austin Egeland drove in Strenge and a double by Humble brought Wycoff home for the Midget's 6-0 lead.
Hunziker was replaced by Matt Eckard, who ended the inning by getting Jacobson to fly out to center field.
Two scoreless innings later, Snyder ran into trouble in the top of the fifth inning as a leadoff error was followed by four straight singles by the Pioneers as they plated four runs.
Now leading just 6-4, ELC went to work with two outs in the bottom half of the inning. Snyder singled through the right side of the infield and Egeland doubled to left. A single by Humble brought in both runs.
Egeland entered in relief of Snyder in the sixth inning and the Pioneers went down in order-two via the strikeout with the third batter grounding out to Egeland's first base replacement, Tim Greving.
But Egeland ran into trouble in the top of the seventh as Okoboji's Eckard and Hunziker both hit bloop singles to shallow center field. A walk to Ben DeMuth loaded the bases.
Pat Elrich then hit a grounder to second base drove that in one run, but ELC got the first out with the force at second base. Jacob Fritch then popped up to Bosch at shortstop and Egeland then set down Braxton Malchow on strikes to end the game.
Snyder earned the win, striking out seven batters and giving up six hits and four walks in five innings. Egeland struck out three, walked one and gave up two hits in two innings of work.
"Billy gave us a strong outing and 'Eggs' got the job done," said Evans.
The ELC coach commended the Pioneers for their effort.
"(Coach) Rory (Marra) does a good job with that young team," he said. "They have some bright days ahead."
For ELC at the plate, Humble was 2-3 with two RBIs, Egeland was 2-4 with an RBI, Snyder was 1-2 with an RBI and Wycoff was 1-3 with an RBI.