VAN METER — The Prairie City-Monroe baseball team got strong pitching from its three best hurlers on Tuesday during a Class 2A District 14 semifinal game against Roland-Story.
Unfortunately, the other two phases of the game let down the Mustangs during a 5-0 loss to the Heart of Iowa Conference rival Norse.
PCM had only two hits at the plate and committed five errors in the field in a season-ending loss.
The Norse only scored one earned run in the game.
“We are not going to tip toe around it. We didn’t play well enough to win,” PCM coach Jeff Lindsay said.
“I know that. The team knows that. You can’t give that many extra chances in postseason play. That’s hard to overcome sometimes.”
The Mustangs (18-10) swept Roland-Story during HOIC play in the regular season, but four errors in the second inning put PCM in a hole it couldn’t get out of.
Roland-Story plated three unearned runs in the second, added another unearned run in the fourth and put a cap on the win with a run in the seventh.
Junior Noah Henkenius allowed no earned runs on four hits and struck out two in five innings. Freshman Derek Brown struck out two in his only inning, and sophomore Brayton Van Dyke allowed one earned run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout in the seventh.
“I thought we pitched the ball well. I thought that Hank and Derek threw the ball well. Brayton, for the most part, threw it well, too,” Lindsay said. “But when you are only able to do one of the three parts of the game, it’s tough to win.”
Sophomore Preston Van Wyk opened the bottom of the first inning with an infield single but was thrown out trying to steal second.
The Mustangs didn’t have another base runner until senior Noah Clark walked in the fifth. Senior Ethan Thomas got PCM’s first hit to the outfield two batters later, but Aaron Craig got out of the jam when senior Ryan Hill flied out to center.
Craig allowed two hits and struck out five over five innings.
“The last several pitchers we have seen this year throw the ball a lot harder than this guy today,” Lindsay said of Craig. “They were pitching us away. We had worked on trying to go with those pitches and hit them to the opposite field, but we didn’t do that today. We got our bats out early, got ahead of the pitches and were rolling it over. We started to be more patient a little too late in the game.”
After not scoring with two runners on base in the fifth, the last base runner in the game came in the sixth when sophomore Reed Worth walked with one out.
Norse reliever Matthew Weaver struck out the side though and then retired the Mustangs in order in the seventh to finish off the win.
“We just didn’t hit tonight. And that hasn’t been the case very much this year,” Lindsay said.
The Mustangs ended the season with two straight losses. They never had a three-game losing streak in 2017, and PCM was only shut out three times.
The defense averaged 2.25 errors per game. They more than doubled that number Tuesday against the Norse.
“I don’t feel frustrated. The kids are trying their best. They are not trying to make mistakes,” Lindsay said. “I feel bad for the seniors. They have shown strong leadership over the course of their careers, and they have meant a lot to the program. We wanted them to have a better finish to the season.”