HUDSON — It took Don Bosco a while to get its bats going Saturday night, but when the Dons found their strokes, they swatted themselves into the Class 1A substate finals.
Don Bosco (27-4) had to travel to Hudson (14-13) for the district finals and found the road a little rough as the Pirates jumped to a 1-0 lead in the fourth after the Dons left seven men stranded over the first three innings.
The Dons rallied big in the sixth with five runs to advance to Marshalltown Tuesday night just one win away from a state bid.
“I give all the credit to (Jacob) Murray,” Don Bosco coach Joel Schares said. “He is a very good pitcher and he gave us troubles up there. I will also give our guys credit for the late gut check they had and went after it.
“We were at the point where next man in the box had to make it happen and they did. I also thought that Lewis Havel pitched an awesome game on just 88 pitches. That was huge.”
Havel improved to 4-0 on the year but found it a little troublesome early on.
After a leadoff walk and a single, Havel had to reach deep to get a ground ball out that scored the lone run, then struck out the next batter.
“I just got back from a shoulder injury and the coaches had faith in me to go out and throw,” said Havel. “They believed in me and that meant a lot. I was a little frustrated with us not scoring early, but I have a lot of confidence in our offense and knew we could score. We started getting the hits together and it just rolled.”
Dons catcher Bryce Schares provided the spark to ignite the five-run sixth inning.
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With the bases loaded and one out, Schares got a pitch he needed and stroked it down the right field line, plating two runs. The hits kept coming as Charlie Hogan and Easton Larson singled in runs.
“Yeah, when we got down 1-0 there I was getting a little concerned,” said Schares. “It was nerveracking and it was a flashback to two years ago when we were supposed to beat them and we did not. We knew we had to get the big bats going late and everyone took their opportunity.”
The Pirates, meanwhile, could not get a rally going late.
“I tell you what, Murray is a fun pitcher to watch,” Pirates coach Joe Bahnsen said. “I put odds against anybody that he faced. We had opportunities to score but we didn’t get the hops and bounces we needed. It is frustrating but we have a good group coming back next season.”
Don Bosco 6, Hudson 1
Hudson 000 100 0 — 1 3 1
Don Bosco 000 015 x — 6 6 0
Jacob Murray, Ben Kelly (5) and Ethan Vogt. Lewis Havel and Bryce Schares. WP—Havel (4-0). LP—Murray (5-4). 2B—Murray (H), Bryce Schares (DB), Easton Larson (DB).