A pitchers’ duel between West Branch’s Cody Brandt and Dyersville Beckman’s Nate Steger ended in favor of the latter, as the top-seeded Trail Blazers defeated the eighth-seeded Bears 2-1 in the Class 2A quarterfinals at Principal Park on Friday night.
Beckman got on the board first with two runs in the first inning. Lucas Jacque walked with the bases loaded to bring in Robbie Anstoetter, who led off with a single, for the game’s first run. Two at-bats later with the bases still loaded, Steger would come in to score when Rob Hermsen took a pitch from Brandt on the shoulder. Brandt struck out Levi Lawrence and induced a Mike Boeckenstedt fly out to center to get out of the jam.
Brandt led off the fourth with a deep double to left for West Branch. Nevin Tucker courtesy ran for the southpaw and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Brandon Shortt would bring in Tucker giving the Bears their first run of the game.
The Bears loaded up the bases in the sixth with two outs, but Steger got out of the inning, fielding a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Tyler Donovan and firing to first to retire the side.
Ryan Kirkey walked to lead off the West Branch half of the seventh and advanced to second on an error by second baseman Hermsen with one out. Third baseman Lawrence showed off his fancy footwork fielding a ground ball from Bo Bower touching third and firing to first for a game-ending double play.
The sophomore Steger pitched a complete game, allowing one run on six hits, walked two and struck out five earning the win. Brandt suffered the loss, allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out four and walking five in five innings of work.
The Trail Blazers (36-7) will face Kuemper Catholic on Thursday at Principal Park, with the first pitch of the 2A semifinals scheduled for noon. West Branch ends at 20-16.
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