DES MOINES – Streaks are meant to be broken.
Don Bosco of Gilbertville has broken two this week at the Class 1A state baseball tournament at Principal Park.
The first got the Dons to the state semifinals. The second has Don Bosco back in the state championship game for the first time since 2008.
Don Bosco of Gilbertville reached its fourth Class 1A state semifinal game Friday with a 3-1 win over South Winneshiek of Calmar.
The Dons (19-1) jumped on eighth-seeded Kingsley-Pierson (16-3) early Thursday en route to a 9-1 victory that snapped a three-game losing streak in the state semifinals.
“It feels great,” winning pitcher Lewis Havel said. “Especially being able to pitch and helping lead our team to a state championship game. It means the world to me.”
The Dons had lost in the semifinals in 2014, 2016 and last year, and this will be their third state finals appearance and first since losing to North Sentral Kossuth, 6-0, in the 2008 finals. Don Bosco won it all in 1978, beating Missouri Valley, 4-3.
“A good week so far,” Don head coach Joel Schares said. “We got the third base jinx out of the way (Friday) and got the semifinal win, finally. So far, so good. We are happy to be in the finals.”
Don Bosco got to Kingsley-Pierson freshman pitcher Evan Neumann early, scoring twice in both the first and second innings with two outs.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Havel was dominant.
Havel went the distance and allowed just four hits and struck out seven versus one walk. He also induced 12 ground outs as he kept the ball low in the zone from start to finish while improving to 5-0 and 2-0 in the state tournament.
Dons won't find out about first-round state opponent until late Thursday morning as a postponement of one 1A substate game moved the seeding meeting back one day.
“Right away first two innings putting up four runs is huge, especially as the pitcher,” Havel said. “Starting a game knowing you have a lead it is a lot easier to be confident on the mound. It is easier to paint spots on the corners, but in the end my defense was there and that is what I needed today.”
Schares felt good about his team’s chances heading to the Principal Park after an early morning batting practice session.
“Getting four runs in the first two innings was a big deal especially when we feel really confident with Lewis on the mound,” Schares said. “I thought before the game during BP this morning, I thought we had a team that was locked in. I thought they were confident compared to last year where it was a little bit of deer in the headlights. I think these guys knew what they wanted to do.”
In the first, Dillon Welter delivered a double to plate Havel, and Easton Larson followed with a RBI-single to score Welter. In the second, Ryan Naughton walked on four pitches and Cael Frost singled with two outs. Havel drove home Naughton with a single, and Frost scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
“It is big to come out and hit the ball hard right away,” Welter said. “Curt Frost, our hitting coach, preaches that heavily. With two outs, it was like an extra dagger. And then, again in the second inning, we scored with two outs so it was just adding fuel to the fire.”
Seventh-ranked Don Bosco banged out 16 hits en route to return trip to Des Moines.
A two-out error in the fourth helped Don Bosco extend its lead to 5-0.
Frost went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Naughton the No. 9 hitter went 2-for-2 and scored three times.
“That was big for us,” Frost said. “That just gave us confidence to know we are never out of an inning. Two outs … it doesn’t matter what part of the order if you string a couple hits together you can scratch across a couple of runs across the plate.”
Kingsley-Pierson scored its only run in the fifth when Neumann led off with a double down the third-base line. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. But Neumann was only the second and last base runner to reach second against Havel.
Don Bosco will play three-time defending 1A champion Mason City Newman at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
“Either opponent is going to be very good,” Schares said. “Both have been down here before, have been in this situation before. We are are going to start a freshman on the mound. We feel confident in Mack (Ortner). We just got to be solid one through nine at the plate and we’ve played really good defense down here.
“I don’t think we are going to change our approach.”
Don Bosco 9, Kingsley-Pierson 1
Kingsley-Pierson 000 010 0 — 1 4 1
Don Bosco 220 104 x — 9 8 0
Evan Neumann, Damon Schmid (4), Matt Christophersen (6) and Boe Harvey. Lewis Havel and Ty Purdy. WP – Havel (5-0). LP – Neumann (7-2). 2B – Dillon Welter (DB).
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