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Solon battling tough against ranked teams

Spartans split with No. 1 Beckman, sweep No. 7 Benton Community
Todd Oberthien took the mound for the Spartans in the first game of a varsity doubleheader against the Benton Community Bobcats Friday in Solon. Oberthien struck out 11 while scattering three hits in a 10-0 victory. (photos by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– With a split against No.1 in Class 2A Dyersville Beckman last week, Solon’s varsity baseball team has won 11 of its last 12 games
The Spartans hosted Beckman last Monday, July 1, dropping the first game 7-3 and taking the nightcap 5-2.
Solon closed out June with a road trip sweep of Williamsburg (4-0, 12-7), then hosted conference rival Beckman and closed out the four-game home stand by taking two games against No. 7 (3A) Benton Community Friday, July 5.
Against the Bobcats, senior Todd Oberthien pitched a three-hit shut-out in game one for a 10-0 win, and the Spartans fought back for two runs in the seventh to take the 5-4 victory in the second game.
“I think the difference is that our guys have bought back into the approach we’ve been preaching all year,” head coach Keith McSweeney said.
Solon lost four in a row in mid-June, but then rattled off seven straight wins before the loss to Beckman.
“They got away from that for some reason and they needed to recommit,” McSweeney said. “That, and a few guys started coming around that had started slowly.”
The Spartans moved to 21-9 with the wins over Benton Community.
In the first game, Oberthien struck out 11 while scattering three hits in the 10-0 win.
Mitch Silberstein opened up the scoring in a five-run fourth inning for Solon, singling in two runs and then coming in to score later in the inning.
Tim Lance went 2-2 with two walks, Connor Fitzpatrick went 2-3 with a double and an RBI, while Elijah Kane collected three RBI. Nine of Solon’s 10 runs came from RBI.
Benton Community jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Silberstein in the second game, but he settled in to go the distance, giving up two more runs in the fifth, but holding the Bobcats in the sixth and seventh, when Solon was able to wrest away the lead in the 5-4 win. He allowed only five hits for Benton.
Colton Dall had two of Solon’s six hits, with three RBI and a home run.
“It’s certainly been a team effort and our ability to move runners and play station to station has been part of that success,” McSweeney said. “We need to keep progressing and working the process and the wins will take care of themselves.”
The Spartans will be on the road this week, with games at Mount Vernon (July 8), Washington (July 9), Independence (July 10) and Cedar Rapids Kennedy (July 13) before returning home to host Marion Monday, July 15.
Solon closes out the regular season against Mid-Prairie Tuesday, July 16.