State Baseball: Lawrence's "Web Gem" Helps Beckman Past West Branch
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
DES MOINES — It was a 50-50 defensive play at best. A high-school kid makes it successfully about 50 percent of the time and is unsuccessful the other 50 percent.
Levi Lawrence was on the positive side of the ledger last night in the bottom of the seventh inning of a Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal, which allowed top-seeded Dyersville Beckman to move on oh, so barely.
“What can I say about this team?” Beckman coach Tom Jenk Jr. said after a 2-1 escape of West Branch at Principal Park. “They play defense. And they played it at the right time.”
Let’s set the scene here. West Branch had runners on first and second with one out and leading hitter Bo Bower at the plate.
He turned on a Nate Steger pitch and hit a bullet to third. Lawrence snared it on a short hop, looked skyward, realized he had the ball in his glove, ran to third for the force and threw across the diamond.
Game-ending double play. Beckman will play Carroll Kuemper (27-11) in a semifinal Thursday at noon.
“I put my head down because I thought it was a base hit,” Steger said. “But then he just snags it, stepped on (third) and went to first.”
“I didn’t know I had it at first. It just happened so fast,” Lawrence said. “Whatever you’ve got to do to block it. Don’t let it get through you. Once it gets through you, it’s not going to be good. So that was my main goal. Just block it.”
He did better than just block it.
“I should have hit it in the air,” said a dejected Bower, who felt he beat Lawrence’s throw to first. “It’s too bad. It sucks, it really sucks … They were beatable, and we could have beaten them.”
“Bo hit the poop out of that ball,” West Branch coach B.J. Rios said. “The guy made a heck of a play, touched (third) on it and went to first for the double play. If he doesn’t make that play, we’re scoring, we’re tied, and possibly (have a runner) on third with one out.”
Beckman (36-7), which has won 25 of 26 games, is a regular state tourney participant, as opposed to this being West Branch’s second appearance. That kind of decided this game, as the Blazers scored both of their runs in the top of the first against jittery pitcher Cody Brandt (6-5), who walked in a run and hit Rob Hermsen to bring home another.
A defensively misplay at third also loomed large.
“After that first inning, I feel like we all settled in,” said Brandt. “The hitting just wasn’t there. We left too many out there.”
Both teams did, actually. Beckman stranded the bases loaded in the third and fifth. West Branch (20-16) left two in scoring position in the first and the bases loaded in the sixth.
The Bears actually outhit Beckman by a 8-6 margin. But it wasn’t about hits, as it turned out.
“Defense wins championships,” Lawrence said. “That’s what we want to do.”
What's On KCRG