TRAER - Jacob Wrage was on the mound to keep Don Bosco's baserunners in check.
He did just that by making sure there weren't very many of them.
The Redhawk southpaw hurled a gem of a four-hit shutout Thursday to guide North Tama past the Dons, 1-0, to advance to the Class 1A District 11 finals this weekend.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
North Tama shortstop Brent Billerbeck, left, swipes a tag at Don Bosco’s Jake Hogan in the teams’ matchup in the Class 1A District 11 semifinals Thursday in Traer. The Redhawks won, 1-0, to advance to Saturday’s finals against Gladbrook-Reinbeck in Grundy Center at 7 p.m.
Wrage allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked none in his first pitching appearance of the season against Don Bosco as the teams met for the third time after splitting a pair of Iowa Star Conference games.
"It was a great, great effort by Wrage. We really liked the matchup. We knew we had a shot coming in here," said North Tama head coach Dan Kopriva. "We knew we had to do one thing, and that was control the running game.
"And Wrage controlled the running game."
He also delivered the day's only run.
Brent Billerbeck launched a pitch over the head of the Dons' centerfielder that rolled all the way to the fence, allowing the speedy shortstop to cruise into third for a triple.
Wrage followed by lacing a double down the first base line to drive home Billerbeck.
The Dons had their only real chance to knot the score in the fifth inning when Tyler Metcalf led off with a single and stole two bases to bring himself 90 feet from home.
The junior then tried to steal home, but was easily tagged out by North Tama catcher Justin Jacobs.
"That one threw a loop on me. That surprised me," Kopriva said. "When (Metcalf) broke to home, I was just (thinking), 'Please be in the catcher's mitt.'
"If it's in the dirt, it's a run."
Metcalf's pair of swipes made up two-thirds of the steals on the day for the Dons (22-8), who were third in the Iowa Star Conference with 119 thefts.
"We talked about that during the week, that's what they like to do," Wrage said. "That's why I got to go on the mound, to keep them close."
But the Dons rarely even had the opportunity to wreak havoc on the base paths, getting just four hitters aboard on the night and never having more than one on base in an inning.
"They didn't have many baserunners, and they did get a couple steals," Kopriva said, "but usally they get on, they're stealing second, they're stealing third, and (Wrage) can control that.
"He did an excellent job."
The junior got stronger as the night went on, registering half of his eight strikeouts in the final two frames.
"I had my control on," Wrage said.
The win brings the Redhawks (19-12) to Saturday's 7 p.m. district final against Gladbrook-Reinbeck (17-11) in Grundy Center on a three-game winning streak.
The Rebels have won five in a row after dispatching Grundy Center, 15-5 in six innings, in their semifinals matchup.
The winner will face whichever team emerges in the clash between No. 7 BGM and No. 10 Pleasantville in a substate final at Marshalltown High School on Tuesday night.