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DES MOINES — The difference between winning and losing a state baseball tournament game is often razor thin.

That’s magnified in a first-round matchup between the teams seeded fourth and fifth, which means the seeding committee had a hard time differentiating which was the better team.

And Friday afternoon at Principal Park, that was the case as fourth-seeded Don Bosco of Gilbertville edged fifth-seeded Coon Rapids-Bayard, 3-1, in a Class 1A first-round game that opened the 2019 Iowa state baseball tournament.

“It’s a four-five game so you figure it is going to be a flip of the coin and it wasn’t going to be easy,” Don Bosco head coach Joel Schares said. “We told them that in the dugout and it was correct. It wasn’t easy.”

“At this point it is about advancing and that is what we have been preaching,” added Dons’ catcher Bryce Schares, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief to close out the game and pick up his first save of the season. “Maybe we didn’t play the way we wanted to, but we’re moving on.”

The difference in the game was simple. The Dons (29-4) capitalized at the right time to score all three of their runs. The Crusaders (29-5) did not take advantage of their opportunities nearly enough.

Coon Rapids-Bayard stranded 11 runners on base, at least one in every inning, as Don Bosco starter Lewis Havel and reliever Bryce Schares worked out of numerous jams to help the Dons advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in their 10th state tournament appearance.

Havel improved to 5-0, working 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and walking one while striking out eight.

Don Bosco will play Mason City Newman next Thursday in a semifinal game.

“We worked our way out of a lot of jams,” Joel Schares said. “Good job to Havel. He pitched a whale of game.”

After a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, Don Bosco scored all three of its runs in the third.

Easton Larson legged out an infield single to open the inning. With one out, Kendall Becker blasted his second double of the game off the base of the left field wall to put runners on second and third.

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Don Bosco’s top RBI man, Cael Frost, was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Schares’ sharp grounder deflected off Crusaders second baseman Quentin Culbertson for a run-scoring single.

After CR-B starter Kade Schlepp struck out Havel for the second out, Fischer Ohrt drilled a single up the middle to plate a pair of runs and a 3-0 lead for the Dons.

“Fischer has been doing that all season. I can’t tell you how many times he has done that,” Joel Schares said.

The Crusaders immediately responded in the fourth as Aaron McAlister tripled to left-center and scored on Josh Rameriz’s single to left. But with runners on first and second, Havel struck out CR-B leadoff hitter Peyton Clipperton and Trenton Golay, who had singled in each of his first two plate appearances, tapped out weakly to Havel to end the inning.

Havel also worked out of jams in the second when he stranded runners on second and third with back-to-back strikeouts, and in the third when, with runners on first and second and one out, he struck out the Crusaders’ four and five hitters — Culbertson and Ben Obert.

“We were confident coming in, but we knew it was going to be a tight game with the four-five seeds,” said Frost. “It is all good. We got out of jams. We made plays in the field, and we got the big hit when we needed it.”

Don Bosco 3, CR-B 1

C.R.-Bayard 000 100 0 — 1 7 0

Don Bosco 003 000 x — 3 6 1

Kade Schlepp and Ben Obert. Lewis Havel, Schares (6) and Bryce Schares, Cedric Yoder (6). WP — Havel (5-0). LP — Schlepp (5-3). Sv — Schares (1). 2B — Kendall Becker 2 (DB). 3B — Aaron McAlister (CR-B).

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