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It had been a tough season for Blake Bontrager in the win column on the mound.
Iowa Mennonite’s sophomore starter had not allowed more than six hits or two earned runs in any of his five starts this season, but his record stood at 1-3 entering the district final in Keota.
Bontrager took matters into his own hands on Saturday, driving in the first two runs of the game and throwing a three-hit shutout in a 10-0 win over Sigourney.
“I was just trying to come out and dominate,” Bontrager said. “I knew my fielders were going to have my back. I just threw strikes and let them hit it.”
It was effective. Bontrager had just one strikeout and one walk, and needed only 64 pitches for the five-inning complete game blanking of the Savages.
“It means a lot to me,” Bontrager said. “This is the farthest I’ve ever been, so it’s really impactful.”
Drake Brezina, who was hit by a pitch and scored in the first inning, drove in two runs with a second inning double and cleared all three bases with a double in the third. He finished 2-2 with five RBI.
Iowa Mennonite led 9-0 by the end of the third inning.
Cole Ours scored in each of the first three innings and invoked the 10-run mercy rule with a two-out single in the fifth.
Cole Yoder and Isaiah Swantz each had a hit and drove in a run in the third inning. While catching, Swantz recorded two outs on foul pop-ups near the backstop.
Brezina recovers to strikeout BGM
It was not the start anyone was expecting. Drake Brezina, who had not allowed an earned run in three of his last four starts, had allowed two hits, two walks and hit a batter before recording an out in the district semifinal.
Trailing 2-0 with the bases loaded and not outs, Brezina struck out the next seven in a row and would not allow another run in Iowa Mennonite’s 4-3 win over BGM in Keota on Thursday.
Brezina struck out 13 batters in five innings of work. He did not walk a batter after the first inning and gave up four more hits. He credited the quick turnaround to his curveball.
“Sometimes you just can’t throw a fastball or something’s not working so you have to switch it up,” he said.
“Blake (Bontrager) back there, I’ve always got to give the credit to that guy. Him and I, we just connect. We just know what we want and he knows what I’m feeling so I’ve got to give it to him. It’s great to get in that groove.”
The IMS offense responded to adversity immediately as well, loading the bases and scoring on a one-out single from Bontrager.
Two strikeouts protected the Bears’ one-run lead until the second inning. That’s when Reggie Borntrager cleared the bases with a two-out three-RBI double.
“I was just looking for (a pitch) right down the middle,” Borntrager said.
“I decided to swing at the first one. I wasn’t sure if it was foul or not at first, but when I saw it roll to the fence, I felt good about that. I guess I hit it to the right place.”
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