BEAMAN - East Marshall senior John Bloom reduced the high-powered Hudson offense to three harmless singles, none of which amounted to much more than a reason for fans to put their hands together.
But one little hiccup was more than the Mustangs could bear.
Back-to-back walks and a pair of wild pitches allowed Hudson's Shay Ingles to score the game's only run in the top of the third inning, and the ninth-ranked Pirates rode right-handed fireballer Cale Hanke's two-hitter to a 1-0 triumph over East Marshall in Saturday's Class 2A District 13 finale.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
East Marshall senior Dakotah Wolken slides in safely with a stolen base as Hudson middle infielders Ty McGlaughlin (23) and Justin Petersen (9) chase down the throw during the first inning of Saturday’s Class 2A district baseball final in Beaman. Ninth-ranked Hudson advanced with a 1-0 win.
Hanke (11-0) struck out 13 Mustangs, including seven in a row at one point and 10 of the last 12 batters in four perfect innings to finish off another deep run into the postseason by East Marshall (23-12).
"It's hard for the guys to swallow but we left everything out on the field," said Mustang head coach Justin Frost. "It was just one of those deals where somebody had to win and it just happened to be Hudson."
Hudson (24-5), which averaged 8.5 runs per game prior to the district final, mustered just three hits off Bloom (6-2). The only rift in Bloom's otherwise sterling performance was a brief loss of control that yielded four straight balls and back-to-back walks to Ingles and Hanke with one out in the third.
Though one pitch got past batterymate Ryan Puumala, Bloom struck out cleanup hitter Grant Wolfe for the second out. But before Bloom could get Austin Goodnight to ground out to Zach Rubenbauer at third, another low fastball skipped to the backstop and allowed Ingles to score.
"They put themselves in position to win it, they made a few more plays than we did," said Frost. "Just one of those deals, it was 1-0, you can't really hang your head over it."
East Marshall's best chance to answer Hudson's go-ahead run never materialized. No. 9 hitter Cole Harre slapped a Hanke offering down the left-field line in the bottom of the third, but he was gunned down by Ingles trying to stretch it to a double.
After walking Dakotah Wolken, Hanke retired the next 13 batters he faced - 10 by strikeout.
"The first three innings we put the ball in play pretty well, but (Hanke) really settled in and it looked like he got stronger as the game went on," said Frost.
Wolken led off the bottom of the first by serving a single to center. He then stole second but was cut down trying to take third on Bloom's grounder back to the mound.
"We scouted him pretty good," Bloom said of Hanke. "We knew he only had a fastball and a curveball but he just kept us from scoring. It was a good job by him. He shut us down. He's aggressive and he kept us from rallying."
The Mustangs stranded two of the four runners who managed to reach base against Hanke, a Kirkwood Community College signee. Justin Petersen, Connor Simpson and Goodnight had the only hits for Hudson, which entered the game with a 2A-best .405 team batting average.
"I wanted to get a lot of ground balls and not have to pitch too much," Bloom said. "Basically I got everything I wanted. We came in here, kept them to one run, we just didn't produce and Hudson's a heck of a team."
Hanke needed just 89 pitches to go the distance, while Bloom 90.
Bloom, who has signed to play at Marshalltown Community College, struck out eight and walked three. Opponents hit just .117 against him this entire season.
"He was very good, it's what I expect from him, it's what he's been doing his whole career," Frost said of Bloom. "He's good, he's really good. He's one of the better ones we've had for a while."
The Pirates advance to face third-ranked North Polk (28-4), which turned back Roland-Story 1-0 in eight innings in the District 14 final. The Substate 7 contest will be played in Beaman on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.