BOONE — Bases loaded, one out. Bases loaded, no outs.
Perry faced those situations in the first and sixth innings, respectively, Friday, but escaped unscathed to help the Bluejays claim a 2-0 win over Webster City in their Class 3A District 4 Semifinal.
Perry (15-15) will face host and Raccoon River Conference rival Boone (21-10) Monday at 7 p.m. in the District 4 Final. The Toreadors were 12-0 victors over the Cubs of Nevada in five innings in Friday’s second game. Monday’s winner will return to Boone Wednesday at 7 p.m. to square off with either Gilbert or Humboldt for the right to appear in the state tournament.
Webster City (8-16) threatened in the top of the first when Noah McKinney singled, Cal Zahn walked and Max Hackbarth was hit by a pitch, all with one out.
Perry senior starter Will Whiton rose to the occasion, striking out two consecutive Lynx to silence the rally.
“Getting out of that first inning was huge,” Whiton said. “It carried over into the bottom of the inning, too, and helped us get out first run.”
Whiton led off for Perry by reaching on an infield hit. He stole second and was on third after a wild pitch when Zach Roberts walked. Courtesy runners Nic Fellom was on third and Brandon Kenyon on second when Kyle Nevitt lofted a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Fellom and moved Kenyon to third.
Perry then attempted a suicide squeeze, but the bunt was popped out to the catcher, who had more than enough time to double Kenyon off third to end the inning.
Poor base running decisions burned the Lynx in both the second and third innings. Jordan Tanner was on second with one out in the second when he tried to steal third, only to have Whiton simply step off the rubber and fire to Alexis Garrido at third base for an easy out. A strikeout ended the frame.
Webster City hurt themselves again in the third when Romel Martinez broke from second on a ball hit to Alex Long at shortstop, who flipped to Garrido at third for an easy out. Roberts then threw out Zahn attempting to steal second base to close the frame.
Perry was making little progress against eighth-grade starter Dylan Steen, but managed to load the bases in the fourth. A single from Roberts began the threat, with Adan Medina hit by a pitch after a pair of strikeouts. Blake Lansing followed with a one-hop smash that struck Steen squarely on the front of his right thigh, dropping the pitcher to the dirt as all hands were safe. Daniel Halko entered in relief and induced a fly ball to center to quell the danger.
Whiton’s two-out triple off the fence in center in the fifth — “I thought it was gone when I hit it,” he said — set the stage for another big play by Perry.
This time it was Roberts to the rescue. The senior catcher hit a hard two-hopper into the hole between shortstop and third base, which Martinez gloved. His long throw across the diamond was both strong and accurate but a fraction late as a hustling Roberts was ruled safe, allowing Whiton to score.
“I was watching it and saw it take a big hop and knew he was going to get to it,” Roberts said of his hit. “I just put my head down and kept telling myself ‘come on! come on!’ and was glad I made it.”
The Lynx tried desperately to get back into the game in the sixth, with McKinney walking and moving to third when Zahn doubled to the fence in left field. Hackbath was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game to load the bases with no outs.
Bryan Ferrell ran the count to 3-1 before Whiton came back for a strikeout for the first out. Cole Reigelsberger then hit a high hopper to a drawn-in Garrido at third, who fired just in time to Roberts to force out McKinney at the plate. A ground out to Nic Wilhelmi at second base keep the goose egg on the scoreboard.
“He (Garrido) has been coming on through the end of the season,” Whiton said of the freshman third baseman. “He just keeps making plays. He is young but he has a bright future.”
Perry threatened in their half of the sixth when Lansing and VanKirk each walked with two outs, but a ground out kept the score at 2-0.
The game ended with an acrobatic catch of a foul pop-up near the Lynx dugout along the first base line by Whiton and with a fly ball to Nevitt in center and a ground out to Garrido at third.
“The way this season went I think Will and Nic (Wilhelmi) and I were trying to take everything on ourselves as the seniors,” Roberts said. “Now we are getting a lot more confident as a team and are not making the errors we made earlier. This is the kind of win that can give us momentum.”
The win was a purging of sorts for Whiton, who was roughed up in a surprising first round loss last season. Asked if the memory of that loss was on his mind, the reply was instantaneous.
“All year,” he said, “all year. That memory left a sour taste I could not wait to get rid of. It was 100 percent fuel for the fire.”
Whiton allowed just three hits and four walks while striking out six in the win.
Steen went 3-2/3 frames, yielding a run on three hits and two walks while striking out three. Halko threw 2-1/3 innings, surrendering a run on two hits and two walks with a pair of strikouts.
Class 3A District 4 Semifinal
at Boone, July 17
PERRY 2, WEBSTER CITY 0
Team R H E
WC 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
PRY 100 010 x — 2 5 0
WC: Steen (3.2), Halko (2.1) and Moen. PRY: Whiton and Roberts. WP: Whiton (5-2). LP: Steen. 2B — WC: Zahn. 3B — PRY: Whiton. LOB — WC: 7; PRY: 6.
Video highlights courtesy of PEGASUS TV-12 and volunteer Doug Wood. Check www.pegasustv12.com for air time of complete game.