Atkins' dominance propels Marion into 3A semifinals

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DES MOINES, Iowa. (KCRG) - The Marion Indians scored four in their 3A quarterfinal win over Bishop-Heelan but only one was needed the way Marion's Rick Atkins was throwing the ball on Tuesday. Atkins finished with a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out 16.

"It felt like just me and the wind, nothing else." said Atkins after the game. "It was probably one of the most fun days of baseball I've played."

“It was pretty special." said Marion head coach Steve Fish. "He had all his pitches today. We knew he had it in him, we were just wondering if he was going to have that off-speed and boy he was confident. You could just look at his eyes."

In the Indians' last state tournament appearance in 2017, Atkins was on the mound and surrendered two runs to Dubuque Wahlert who eventually won 5-4. Atkins said he had a few nerve before Tuesday's game, but once he threw the first pitch he was laser-focused.

"It was really tough seeing the seniors go that year and especially because I was pitching in the 7th inning when they walked it off." Atkins said. "This year I didn't want to let my fellow classmates, my seniors go and I wanted to get to the second round this year."

The Indians put a pair of runs on the board in the first inning thanks to a Trevor Paulson rbi single, followed by an Owen Puk rbi triple.

"{I'm} very proud of our guys and this has been a special group and you know they're always doing the little things right." Fish said. "You just sit back as a coach and just let them go."

The Indians advance to the 3A semifinals and will face off with the #1 seed Xavier Saints (39-2) after they defeated ADM 7-2. The Saints lead all of class 3A with 352 runs scored on the season.

"They hit the ball." Fish said. "Its like the bronx bombers when I look through that lineup coach {Dan} Halter has a bunch of guys that can swing the bat but you know we're going to show up and expect to win. I like my guys, my guys are hungry."

The Saints and Indians will face off on Friday afternoon.