DES MOINES – Underwood simply couldn’t keep making up for errors it made in the field.
The seventh-seeded Eagles committed five errors against second-seeded Van Meter — and despite an impressive early rally — fell in the Class 2A state quarterfinals 17-7 in six innings at Principal Park Monday.
“We had some plays we normally make, but it is one of those things when you are hitting the ball hard and you are playing a field as nice as this you are used to the grass slowing it down a little bit,” Underwood coach Andy Vanfossan said. “It had a little bit of get up. It wasn’t our night defensively, but that is the way it goes.”
Van Meter (32-3), making its third straight state appearance after being a semifinalist last year, rapped out 14 hits in the game led by Brett Berg’s three hits and three RBIs.
State jitters got the better of Underwood in the bottom of the first inning when Van Meter took advantage of a hit batter, a walk, two errors, a wild pitch and a triple to score five times and take a 5-1 lead. Bryce Cole hit a triple for the Bulldogs to drive one in, but Underwood was able to finally get out of the inning with a double play, throwing out runners at first and home.
“They can hit the ball and we hadn’t seen a hitting team like this all year up and down the lineup,” Vanfossan said. “They hit the ball tonight and it is what it is.”
The Eagles did not panic, they went to work with two outs in the second.
Jake Reimer singled to center to drive in Kyler Rodenburg, and Nick Ravlin would score Reimer with a triple on a ball the left fielder struggled with in the sun. Ravlin would cross home plate on a wild pitch to shrink the deficit to 5-4.
The Eagles tied the game an inning later when Blake Hall was hit by a pitch, and Tyler Boothby was walked to put two on. Rodenburg would bring Hall in with the tying run on a deep fly to center.
“That has been our thing all year because we have been fortunate not to be behind in a lot of games, but they are pretty calm and cool if they get down or something doesn’t go their way,” Vanfossan said. “They do a good job of bouncing back and tonight was the same thing. I hope people respect the western side of the state, and I thought we gave Van Meter everything they wanted.”
The teams continued to trade offense in the bottom of the third with the Bulldogs going up 6-5 when Jacob Blomgren singled and scored on Cody Coffman’s RBI groundout. Another error — the Eagles’ fourth — helped the Bulldogs add three more runs in the fourth to lead 9-5.
Underwood cut the lead to 9-7 on RBI singles from Rodenburg and Coby Fink in the fifth, but a double play ended the frame with a runner on third.
Underwood (26-5), making its second state appearance and first since 2014, had eight hits in the game, but could not find the answer on the mound as it used five pitchers in six innings. The Bulldogs ended the game early with six runs in the sixth.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group of guys,” said Rodenburg, who went 2-for-2 with two runs batted in and a run scored. “The goal from Day 1 was to get to the state tournament. Me, Drake (Adair) and Jamie (Marsh) being the three seniors on the team that is how we wanted to go out.”
Van Meter will face West Sioux (22-5) in a 2A semifinal Thursday, bringing a 20-game winning streak into the game.