TRAER — Hoping to upset Don Bosco in Thursday’s District Baseball semifinal, Hudson Coach Joe Bahnsen knew he had to get creative.
And while Bahnsen went a bit further outside the box than many were likely expecting, it was hard to argue with the results at game’s end.
Eight different Pirates hit safely, and Tannor Wulf got the win in his first ever varsity start, leading Hudson to the 5-3 upset win in Class 1A District 6 action in Traer.
Most weren’t expecting to see Wulf, whose only previous high school start was at the JV level, get the nod, with Wulf himself the most taken aback by the decision.
“I am very surprised even now,” he said. “But coach believed in me and knew I would do something on the mound. But I was surprised.”
In five innings of work, Wulf allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) with a walk and two strikeouts.
Dealing with a shortage of arms after Tuesday’s 8-7 win against GMG, Bahnsen thought Wulf would provide a change of pace the Dons weren’t expecting.
“Tannor brings just a little different aspect, Bahnsen said. “He has a different speed to keep people off balance. That’s what we were looking for tonight.”
And it wasn’t just the mound where Wulf came up big.
The Pirates, who’d taken a 3-2 lead on a Dylan Petersen single in the fifth, were looking to stretch the advantage with the bases loaded and two outs. After getting behind 0-2, Wulf battled to stay alive and eventually singled home two runs, putting Hudson ahead 5-2.
The Pirates, who had 10 hits and reached on six walks, showed great patience at the plate all night. They went deep into the count during several at bats against Trever Brown, who threw 109 pitches in five innings of work.
“Brown’s one of the best pitchers in the state. But we knew what we were in for,” Bahnsen said. “The guys took long at bats and took pitches away from him and then put the ball in play. It was all I could ask for.”
Jacob Myers led the hitting attack, going 3-for-3 with a double and two runs.
Hudson also benefited from a string of great defensive plays. After Austin Miller cut the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth, left fielder Jacob Murray relayed to shortstop Alex Hageman, who threw him out at second as he attempted to stretch a single to a double.
Then, with runners on first and second with two out in the next inning, Holden Caloud saved a run, first by making a diving stop of a sharp Caleb Rigdon grounder, then by making another lunge to tag the base before Rigdon could reach safely.
The Pirates’ effort wasn’t lost on Thursday’s opposing coach.
“Hudson played a great game,” Dons head man Blaine Rhodes said. “They made every play when we put the ball in play. It was nothing our kids did, it was what their kids did.”
Bahnsen’s squad is now just one win from a district title. While excited about Saturday’s championship game, he wasn’t ready to discuss it just yet.
“One game at a time,” he said.
SMOLDT NO-HITS NORTH TAMA: While Wulf had the day’s most surprising pitching performance, Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Joe Smoldt came away with its most dominant.
Smoldt tossed a no-hitter, allowing just one runner to reach as the Rebels advanced to Saturday’s District final with a 3-0 win over North Tama.
Smoldt had the Redhawks bewildered from the start, finishing with 16 strikeouts. The lone baserunner he allowed came on a fifth inning walk as North Tama, which had won 18 consecutive games coming in, didn’t put a ball in the outfield until the seventh inning.
“I was ready,” Smoldt said. “My arm was just fresh and I was locating my pitches well, especially my fast ball. I was spotting it well and when I had to throw my curve, I spotted that well and kept it in the strike zone.”
Smoldt also drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single in the third inning.
Keagan Geisking and Matt Roeding also had RBIs for the Rebels, who avenged a 10-0 loss to the Redhawks on May 25.
Hudson and Gladbrook-Reinbeck will meet in the District 6 championship game in Traer at 7 p.m. Saturday.
HUDSON 5, DON BOSCO 3
Hudson 001 130 0 — 5 10 1
Don Bosco 000 210 0 — 3 5 2
Wulf, Murray (6) and Rodriguez. Brown, Schares (6) and Schares and Rottinghaus (6). WP—Wulf. LP—Brown. Sv—Murray. 2B—Myers (H), Brown (DB), Colsch (H).
GLADBROOK-REINBECK 3, NORTH TAMA 0
North Tama 000 000 0 — 0 0 2
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 001 101 x — 311 0
Earley and Zobel. Smoldt and Thede. WP—Smoldt. LP—Earley. 2B—Roeding (GR) 3B—W. Thede (GR).