Van Buren bests Bulldogs, aims for state title
DES MOINES — In its quarterfinal game at the Class 1A state tournament last weekend, Van Buren needed eight innings to secure the win and advance. In the semifinal, however, the Warriors wrapped up a 14-4 victory over Van Meter in just six frames, moving on to the state championship on Saturday at noon.
In their first-ever trip to the state tournament, the unranked Warriors (25-6, No. 3 seed) will face top-ranked and top-seeded Newman Catholic of Mason City (27-6) for the Class 1A title at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Newman is in the state tournament for the 17th time and the 11th time in the last 13 years. The Knights won state titles in 1998, 2002 and 2009, and were runners-up three times, including last season.
In last night’s game against the Bulldogs, Van Buren scored five runs in the opening frame and added five more in the second inning for a big lead early. On the day, they pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of eight Van Meter errors.
Van Meter ends its season with a record of 34-9.
The Bulldogs scored once in the third, twice in the fourth and put their last run on the board in the fifth.
Van Buren tacked three runs on to its total in the fifth, and then scored once more in the sixth on a lead-off single by Brandon Plecker, an error, a fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Robert Barker to push the margin back to 10 at 14-4.
The Warriors shut down Van Meter in the bottom of the sixth to end the game an inning early.
Thomas Fitzsimmons (9-1) picked up the win for Van Buren. He allowed four hits and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings. Laughlin finished the game on the mound for the Warriors. The defense was flawless behind both pitchers.
At the plate, Garrett Saunders and Barker each had three hits on the day to lead the Warriors. Barker and Tanner Smith each had three RBIs.