Sohn, Kyle power Wolves to postseason win
A booming home run by Bret Sohn and 13 strikeouts by ace pitcher Jordan Kyle powered Harris-Lake Park to a 2-1 win over Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn/Remsen-Union Tuesday in Rock Rapids, as the Wolves advanced in the Class 1A District 1 baseball tournament.
Kyle was nearly untouchable on the night. The lanky lefty, who had committed to play baseball at Morningside earlier in the week, pitched six innings of shutout baseball before allowing the Royals their first and only run of the game in the bottom half of the seventh.
"Jordan did a great job of working ahead and getting some big strikeouts for us," Harris-Lake Park coach Lane Gunderson said. "That's the key with Jordan. If he can get ahead in the count, it's tough for them to catch up. He throws hard. He needs to work ahead like that. He did a great job tonight. I thought he worked quicker than usual too, which is good. I'm just really glad that he's really pitching well for us at the right time."
Offensively, the Wolves tagged plenty of pitches hard, but more often than not they were right at Royals defenders. Coach Gunderson said he was pleased with how his team shook the bad breaks off and kept battling.
"I was pleased with the way they were poised and confident and didn't hang their heads when things didn't go our way," he said. "We did a lot of good things tonight, and I'm proud of the guys."
The two teams were scoreless through four innings before Sohn's monstrous home run cleared the scoreboard in left field and landed between a pair of houses across the street, giving his squad a 1-0 lead. It was his first home run of the season.
In an earlier at bat, Sohn crushed a pitch to deep center field. Coach Gunderson knew that if his left fielder could turn on one, it was going to go.
"It was awesome," Coach Gunderson said. "The first time around he just tagged one. When he came off I said, 'Pull that baby, Bret, and it's gone.' The next time he hit it right over the scoreboard. He said, 'Let's go,' as he came around third, so I was happy for him. He had some really good at bats today and battled … It was a huge moment and it was really fun to see how happy the guys were for him."
After a scoreless sixth, the Wolves tacked on an insurance run in the top half of the final frame, as Jordan Kyle reached on a dropped third strike, Sohn drew a walk, and Zach Heikens hit into a fielder's choice to score courtesy runner Isaac Ihnen.
The run proved crucial, as the Royals got a leadoff double in the bottom half of the seventh and scored on a fielder's choice to make it a one-run game.
However, Kyle rolled a grounder up the right side and second baseman Lucas Gunderson gobbled it up and tossed to first for the final out of the ball game.
With the win, the Wolves improved to 9-10 overall on the season and advanced to face ninth-ranked West Sioux (19-5) Thursday in Hawarden.
In their previous matchup this season, the Falcons topped the Wolves 10-0 at home on June 5.
"We just have to play a game like tonight where we get ahead in the count, play good defense and give ourselves a chance," Coach Gunderson said. "They're a great team, but the one nice thing about our conference is, you play great teams every night. It's not going to be like, 'Oh man, we don't have a chance against them,' because we feel like we have a chance against anybody when you play in our conference."