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DES MOINES – They accomplished much of the game plan. Just not the most important part.
Underdog North Tama kept top-seeded Algona Garrigan within reach for its entire Class 1A state baseball tournament quarterfinal Monday afternoon at oven-like Principal Park. But the Redhawks found hitting Garrigan ace pitcher Austin Vaske too problematic in a 3-1 loss.
"The game plan for us hasn't changed, I guess, the whole tournament," North Tama coach Dan Kopriva said. "We're a .280-hitting team, probably the (worst) in the tournament. We were just trying to find a way to get on base, bunt them over and try and score runs. Hold the opponent down."
They held the opponent down, for sure. Garrigan (37-8) didn't hit many balls hard against NT's Jacob Wrage (6-3), taking a 1-0 lead only because of a pair of Redhawk defensive miscues in the third inning.
Wrage walked Garrigan's No. 9 hitter, Grant Reding, with one out and sent him to second on a wild pitch. Reece Wadle then hit a routine fly to right field that Justin Coshow dropped. With two outs and runners on the corners, Zach Keith hit a grounder to third that Brandon Kaufman booted for a run-scoring error.
"Our team can make those plays nine times out of time," said Wrage. "They put it in play a little more than we did, and that helped them out."
Jake Kollasch's two-run single in the sixth essentially put the game out of reach. That's because Vaske (11-1) kept pumping quality pitches.
"I told (Kollasch) before the game 'You're going to have to step up here,'" said Vaske, who will play at Iowa Central Community College. "He did. He made some good plays on defense at second base, too."
Eighth-grader Huston Danker ended Vaske's shutout with a two-out RBI single in the seventh that scored Justin Jacobs, who had doubled with one out. But the right-hander got Brent Billerbeck looking for his 12th strikeout to end the game.
Vaske ended with a three-hitter.
"I didn't think he was doing anything special," Danker said. "He was throwing hard, but the breaking ball really wasn't anything special."
"We got here because of pitching and defense," Kopriva said. "I'm a little disappointed in our defense today. But those guys are the ones that got us here."