HARLAN – The numbers suggested that Harlan Community could have printed out a big, black “W,’’ sealed it in an envelope and sent it to the Iowa High School Athletic Association to be granted admission to another state tournament.
The 26-7 Cyclones were seeking their ninth straight trip to state and sent to the mound senior Brett Sears, who was 36-4 in his career.
The 13-16 ADM Tigers sent senior Logan Crannell, who was 2-6 this season and 6-8 for his career.
Harlan had won its last 26 district and substate games, while ADM had lost 12 of 14 entering the postseason.
However, Harlan knew the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They knew Crannell was a gifted left-hander who held a 20-win Glenwood team to one hit and one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in their district opener.
Crannell was even better than that on Wednesday night. He turned in the performance of a lifetime, firing a one-hitter with nine strikeouts, one walk and one hit batsman as the Tigers stunned No. 5 Harlan 3-1 in the Class 3-A, Substate 8 final before a huge crowd at Jim Goeser Field.
“They believed,’’ said ADM coach Jason Book, a 1994 Walnut High School graduate. “Outside the dugout, probably not so much. And you know what? I can’t say that I blame them.
“But I believed in them. It just took those guys to come together and believe in themselves.’’
ADM (14-16) likely will be the No. 8 seed when they are determined by the coaches on Thursday. The Tigers on Tuesday will make their third state appearance at Principal Park in Des Moines, following 2011 and 2012, when Book was an assistant.
“It’s a little bit sweeter when you’re in the big chair,’’ Book said. “It’s really indescribable.’’
Equally as impressive as Crannell’s pitching was ADM’s ability to put offensive pressure on Sears, a Western Illinois recruit. The Tigers finished with eight hits. After they tied it in the third on Chase Anderson’s RBI single, they took the lead for good in the fourth. Zach Fuller led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Crannell and scored when Kaden Sutton stuck out his bat on an 0-2 defensive swing and lifted it just over the third baseman for an RBI single.
ADM added an insurance run in the sixth when Joe Finnegan tripled into the left-field corner and scored on Fuller’s single.
That was all Crannell needed. With a fastball well into the mid-80s and a sharp-breaking curveball, he retired 17 of his last 18 batters in his 85-pitch gem. Derec Weyer had the only Harlan hit in the 78-minute game, a second-inning single to right.
Crannell said he had not been planning to pitch in college next year. He said he will re-evaluate after state after earning a scholarship offer from South Dakota State following his performance against Glenwood.
Crannell said his stomach was churning in the final two innings.
“I was nervous. I was shaking,’’ he said. “I’ve never been in something like that. But there’s nothing better than pitching with a lead.’’
Harlan coach Steve Daeges said ADM deserved what it earned.
“The kid was dominating,’’ he said. “Brett was good and Crannell was better. You just have to tip your hat to them. They outplayed us tonight. Sometimes that happens.’’
Harlan graduates seven seniors: Sears, Weyer, Luke Schaben, Jon Owens, Riley Kohles, Tyler Schaben and Ronan Noeth.
“I don’t think you can say enough good things about our seniors this year,’’ Daeges said.
The Harlan coach said the loss might put into perspective how difficult it is to reach the state tournament eight straight years in a one-and-done scenario.
“We always talk about how tough it is, but I don’t think people really appreciate that,’’ Daeges said. “We talked a little bit about that after the game, how difficult that is to do and sometimes people think that it’s just going to happen. It didn’t happen tonight because of a guy named Logan Crannell on the mound. He was very tough.’’
ADM (14-16) 001 101 0 – 3 8 0
Harlan (26-8) 100 000 0 – 1 1 0
W: Logan Crannell. L: Brett Sears. 3B: ADM, Joe Finnegan.