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With the tying run on first base, Reggie Borntrager delivered a fastball and Notre Dame’s Nicholas Skerik cracked the ball deep to center field.
“I saw that he hit it hard and as I saw Isaiah running back I’m thinking, ‘he’s got this, he’s got this,’ but at the same time was really worried because if it burned him, I knew they’d score the tying run,” Borntrager said.
Swantz raced backwards, made a final hop and raised his glove and came away with the ball to seal a 6-5 district final win over Notre Dame.
“It was right in my pocket and I just squeezed as hard as I could so it wasn’t coming out,” Swantz said. “It feels amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world for an outfielder.”
The game delivers Iowa Mennonite to the same position they were in last year, a substate final against a highly ranked opponent. This year, it’s Class 1A No. 2 Lisbon, who comes into the game with a 33-0 record.
“I know Lisbon hasn’t seen what we have. We gave North Linn a run for their money last year and I think Lisbon’s about due for loss,” Swantz said.
In the district final Iowa Mennonite got out to a strong start against the Nikes, notching four first-inning runs. Cole Ours was hit by a pitch and Trevor Leyden walked to put two on base. Eli Ours then singled on a bloop to centerfield to load the bases and score Cole Ours.
Leyden and Eli Ours scored on wild pitches to make it 3-0 before an out was recorded. Swantz was walked and then scored on a Jacob Boller single. Before Boller came to bat, Notre Dame went with an early pitching change. Swantz said he thought the pitching change put Notre Dame in a tough spot mentally.
“I think it makes them lose confidence and just not play as well as they were before,” he said.
Iowa Mennonite starting pitcher Drew Blauvelt had a shaky start, giving up two runs in the first along with a walk and two hits, but then settled into his usual rhythm and finished strong. He earned the win on the mound, allowing two earned runs over five innings of work.
Iowa Mennonite added one run in the third to make it 5-2 as Borntrager scored on a Boller single.
In the sixth inning, Cole Ours made one of the most important plays of the game on a risky play. As Cole Ours sprinted to second on an attempted steal, Leyden hit a ground ball to the shortstop. The shortstop made the throw and Cole Ours made the decision to try and make it to third base. He slid in safe.
On the next pitch Eli Ours flew out to left field and Cole Ours was able to tag up to give Iowa Mennonite their sixth run.
In the seventh inning Borntrager came on for his second inning of pitching in relief. Ryle Koenig singled to left field to open the inning. A popout to Leyden was the first out of the inning. Borntrager then hit Carson Chiprez with a pitch. Koenig and Chiprez moved over a base on a wild pitch.
The second out of the inning came on a Drew Chiprez strikeout as Borntrager got Chiprez to swing at an outside fastball.
Lucas Anderson then singled to score two runs and bring the game to 6-5. The game ended on the Skerik flyout to deep center.
Iowa Mennonite plays Lisbon today in Washington for a spot in the state tournament.
Iowa Mennonite made it to the district final with victories against Keota and Class 1A No. 8 New London earlier in the week.
The Iowa Mennonite bats were working hard in the two wins, with a 16-7 win over Keota and a 8-3 win over New London.
Borntrager homered in the win over Keota. Eli Ours was 3-4 from the plate with four RBIs and three stolen bases. Borntrager and Blake Bontrager had two hits each. Trevor Leyden earned the win from the mound.
In the upset win over New London, Bontrager went the full seven innings and allowed only one earned run. He struck out three Tigers and walked five.
Iowa Mennonite had four extra-base hits on the night with Bontrager doubling twice and Leyden and Boller doubling once. In total, they had 11 hits.
Boller drove in four runs in the win.
The Iowa Mennonite was balanced across the board with eight of nine in the lineup getting at least one hit.
Iowa Mennonite: 401 001 0 — 6
Notre Dame: 201 000 2 — 5
Multiple hits: Jacob Boller 2.
Iowa Mennonite: 121 031 0 — 8
New London: 200 000 1 — 3
Multiple hits: Reggie Borntrager 2, Blake Bontrager 2, Jacob Boller 2.
Keota: 202 030 0 — 7
Iowa Mennonite: 513 232 X — 16
Multiple hits: Eli Ours 3, Reggie Borntrager 2, Blake Bontrager 2.