Boys earn state tourney berth, but fall to No. 1 seed
DES MOINES– The Spartans had their chances, but couldn’t put enough runs on the board.
Solon fell to No. 1 seed Waverly-Shell Rock, 3-1, in a Class 3A quarterfinal game at Principal Park Tuesday.
Solon entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed.
“Our goal coming in was to put pressure on them, and we did that virtually every inning except for maybe one or two,” commented head coach Keith McSweeney after the game. “We just couldn’t come up with that big hit in those early innings.”
Solon scored its only run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and had the bases loaded but Waverly-Shell Rock reliever Daniel Stensland was able to strike out Solon’s Dillon Drake to end the game.
“You can’t really wait until two outs in the seventh, you’re not giving yourself enough time,” McSweeney said. “We’re very proud– we came to play. I actually thought they came out tight and we came out loose and ready to play, but we didn’t take advantage of their mistakes.”
Although the Spartans were limited to five hits and three walks, three Go-Hawk errors and two hit batsmen allowed Solon to put runners in scoring position throughout the game. The Spartans stranded a total of 10 runners.
Waverly-Shell Rock came into the game with a 35-2 record, one of the only ranked teams to make it to the 3A state tournament, and the Spartans gave them all they could handle.
“It’s a special thing,” McSweeney said of his team’s appearance in the state tournament. “This is what high school baseball’s about.”
Sean Westendorf earned the win for the Go-Hawks, pitching 6.2 innings, allowing one run on five hits, six strikeouts and three walks. Westendorf also went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
The Go-Hawks took the lead in the second inning, scoring two runs after a single and a walk gave them runners on second and third with two outs. Stensland’s clutch single gave Waverly-Shell Rock a 2-0 lead, but those would be the only runs allowed by Spartan pitcher Mitch Silberstein and the Solon defense until the bottom of the sixth, when a single and an error allowed another Go-Hawk run to score.
Silberstein scattered eight hits, struck out two, walked two and allowed only two earned runs in the loss.
“Mitch did everything he needed to do to win the game for us. He located in-out, up-down. He got a lot of ground balls,” McSweeney said. “His job is to get outs and he’s very effective. We just couldn’t give him the support at the plate.”
Solon started its two-out rally in the seventh after Elijah Kane reached first on an infield error and advanced to second on the throw.
Nathan Hawkins walked, and Lucas Kane singled, driving in his twin brother and the Spartans’ only run.
Lucas Kane had two of Solon’s five hits. Drake, Hawkins and Logan Linderbaum also singled.
“We fought for our lives and that’s all you can ask for,” Spartan catcher Lucas Kane said after the game. “We just couldn’t string base hits together.”
“It is a great honor and just awesome to be on this field again, supporting Solon and really living up to our legacy,” Kane added.
Solon ended its season with a 23-16 record.
“They’ve come a long way,” McSweeney said of his team. “The challenge for our team this year was when we played doubleheaders and we came focused one game and not the other. In the postseason it’s a one-game shot. I think they were able to stay focused in those seven-inning scenarios.
“You know the seniors stepped up,” he continued. “We challenged them to go out there and play tough and play a little bit angry and they did it.”
The Spartans reached Des Moines with an 8-1 win over Clear Creek Amana (CCA) in a substate final played in Solon Wednesday, July 23.
Solon scored two runs in the first and added one each in the second and third to take a 4-0 lead.
The Clippers put up their lone run in the top of the fourth, but the Spartans came back with a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to put the game away.
Silberstein allowed only four hits while striking out three to take the win.
Lucas Kane was 3-4 at the plate with an RBI, while Elijah Kane was 2-4 with a double and an RBI. Drake had two RBI and Ira Luke added a triple. Solon pounded out 11 hits.