OGDEN — Last summer North Polk won the Class 2A State Championship. Eight seniors graduated from that team, but the experience the remaining members of the roster earned was fully evident Tuesday, as the Comets blitzed Woodward-Granger, 10-0, in five innings in their District 14 Semifinal.
“You could see the difference,” W-G head coach Eric Evans said. “We came out uptight and nervous and acted like we had never been here before and they were loose and confident.”
An infield hit started things on the right note for the Comets (17-16) in the top of the first. A wild pitch, passed ball, error and a poor decision — when a throw to the plate was not cut off — combined with a second hit to send five runs (one earned) across the plate.
W-G starter Dylan Garland retired only one batter before being relieved by Brady Aunspach. Garland allowed three hits and walked one batter and was charged with all five runs.
North Polk added a run in the third and three more in the fourth, then helped put the 10-run rule into effect with a single tally in the fifth.
Comet starter Blake Brauer made sure the W-G offense would play little role. The senior entered the game with a 4-2 record but had thrown 70 strikeouts while issuing only nine walks. He held the Hawks to just two hits, struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
Aunspach went three full frames on the hill for the Hawks, yielding four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out one. Ryan Renshaw threw 1-2/3 frames, surrendering a run on three hits.
“We were not nearly aggressive enough on the mound and did not attack the strike zone,” Evans said. “That let them sit back and swing at 2-0 fastballs. We made it easy for them and they didn’t need any help.”
Aunspach and Alex Bodermann had singles for W-G, with Race Brant reaching on a dropped third strike to account for the only Hawk base runners.
Evans has been the Hawk skipper for five seasons, and the 10 W-G seniors — Mike Connor, Tre Loge, Ben Krehbiel, Mason Burkhart, Ryan Hodges, Logan Lande, Kody Mulder, Bodermann, Garland and Renshaw — who played their final game Tuesday were the first group of eighth graders he had as head coach.
“These guys have been through a lot and have had to wear a lot of hats,” Evans remarked. “One of the best things about them is that every one had their best individual season this year, as seniors. It is a special group and I am going to miss them — I have gotten used to having them around.”
Class 2A District 14
at Ogden, July 14
NORTH POLK 10, WOODWARD-GRANGER 0 (5)
Team R H E
NP 501 31 — 10 10 1
W-G 000 00 — 0 2 2
NP: Brauer and n/a. W-G: Garland (.1), Aunspach (3), Renshaw (1.2) and Connor. WP: Brauer. LP: Garland.