Pioneers' season ends with loss to West Lyon
Okoboji saw its postseason run come to a close Tuesday night with a 5-3 loss to West Lyon in the second round of the Class 2A District 2 baseball tournament in Estherville.
The Pioneers plated three runs in the opening frame, but surrendered a run in the third, another in the fourth and three in the fifth to trail 5-3 — a deficit they could not overcome.
"We got out to a good start just like we wanted to," Okoboji coach Rory Marra said. "We got a couple of walks. Matt Eckard had a big single for us and Isaac Fritsch had a huge two-run double that really got us off on the right foot. That was just an incredible hit by him and it's exactly what we needed. We knew that with Matt on the mound, we were going to have a chance to win, but West Lyon is a really good team. They score about 10 runs a game, so we knew three runs was a good start, but it likely wasn't going to win it for us. Unfortunately, we had a couple of errors that allowed some runs and they started to roll a bit offensively and we weren't able to string enough hits together to come back."
Eckard took the loss on the mound. The senior allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and no walks while striking out six in six innings.
The Pioneers scored three runs on four hits.
Fritsch was 1-2 with a double and two RBIs. Bryce Peter was 1-4. Jacob Allen was 1-2 with a run scored. Eckard was 1-3 with a run scored. Cris Halbur scored a run and Blake Peter recorded an RBI for Okoboji.
With the loss, the Pioneers end their season with a 16-13 overall record, but showed major improvements over the final month. After starting the year with a 3-7 record, they won 13 of their last 19 games.
"Well, we got off to a rough start this season," Marra said. "That was something that we kind of expected with how many guys we lost from last year's team. But these guys kept working at it and we ended the year by winning 13 of our last 19. That shows just how much improvement this team made throughout the season. Sure, no one wants to lose in the postseason, but you've got to take some positives out of it. The fact that they were able to end the year as well as they did, that shows a lot of promise for next season."
The loss also ends the careers of seniors Sean Greiner, Isaac Fritsch, Bryce Peter and Matt Eckard.
"Well those guys have played a lot of baseball for us and they've been crucial for our program," Marra said. "Starting out with a kid like Sean Greiner. When he was a sophomore, a lot of those kids in his class were already starting for us, but he just had to wait his time and develop. He did that and he played a heck of a second base for us these last two years. He actually did a really great job for us on the mound this year too, picking up a huge win over Central Lyon. He came in in a tough spot with us trailing by five and shut them down the rest of the way. That was great to see him step up like that. Isaac Fritsch is a kid who has started the last three and a half years for us. He really developed into our No. 2 pitcher and came on strong at the plate down the stretch. He did a lot for us, threw strikes, pitched to contact, and he had a great season. Bryce Peter has been our starting center fielder for four years and our leadoff hitter for three. He's a guy that, as he goes, we go. If he gets on base, we're going to score some runs. He does a great job of getting on by drawing walks and making contact. He's got great speed in the outfield and rarely makes mistakes. He didn't have a single error this year. He also developed into a solid pitcher for us and did everything we asked of him these last two years there. Again, another great season from him. And Matt Eckard was a five-year starter for us. He's a kid that can play pretty much any position on the field. Everyone knows he's a heck of a pitcher. He gave us a chance every time he was on the mound. He was equally good in the field. I think he has a fantastic glove and great range. He makes plays that 95 percent of the shortstops around her couldn't. I can't say enough good things about him, or this group. They've won 54 games in the last three years here. That's 18 wins a season. There's not a lot of teams that can make that claim."