By Nathan Ford
BROOKLYN – The script and actors did not change. The roles, however, were reversed.
BGM defeated North Tama, 8-2, in a district baseball final Saturday night, avenging a 7-2 loss to the Redhawks in a substate final a year ago.
Nate Beck set the tone by stealing home in the first inning after drawing a leadoff walk to begin the game. Then in the second, Tanner Jansen led off with a double, and courtesy runner Dalton Jack was balked home by Redhawk pitcher Jacob Wrage.
“We were the aggressor on the bases,” BGM Coach Jerod Burns said. “Versus last year, where we were kind of on our heels.”
BGM’s potent baserunning was virtually shut down by the left-handed Wrage last season, but the Bears knew what to look for this time around.
“We knew what his move was,” Burns said. “We wanted to see if it would hold true again, and it did. The kids had the confidence coming in. They knew when they could run, and when they couldn’t.”
Kyle Gritsch and Jansen each hit two-run homers to extend BGM’s lead to four and six runs in the third and seventh innings, respectively.
“Those were both gamebreakers,” Burns said. “Huge momentum shifters for us. You saw their kids go down.”
North Tama Coach Dan Kopriva agreed.
“That was big,” Kopriva said. “You just can’t defend two two-run homers.”
Zac Freese struck out 12 and allowed eight hits, one walk and two runs in a complete game, a year after allowing seven runs and six hits in six innings. The Bears committed seven errors a year ago and continually allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base.
Not Saturday night.
“Last year. they small-balled the heck out of us,” Burns said. “That was huge to get that leadoff hitter out. That way they weren’t able to put all that stuff into play.”
The Redhawks scored their only two runs on RBI singles by Brandon Kaufman and Huston Danker in the sixth before Freese struck out two of the next three to end the inning.
“I wanted revenge,” Freese said. “I came out stronger, located a lot better, and we played better defense.”
The Bears (26-4) head back to Marshalltown, the site of last year’s substate loss, for a substate final against No. 3 Van Meter (32-8) on Tuesday.
Freese (14-1) is ready for the challenge.
“When my arm’s good, I want to go out there every day,” Freese said. “I bother my coach every day to be on the mound.”