Fielding errors by Pella Christian spotted the PCM baseball team some much-needed extra outs in the middle innings and powerful pitching helped the Mustangs hang on for a 6-5 win Tuesday night in the Class 2A District Semifinals in Pella. The Eagles committed seven fielding errors, accounting for three unearned runs and allowing the Mustangs to seize the advantage early on.
Pella Christian refused to go down without a fight, though, scoring two runs in the fourth and fifth innings and one more in the sixth to tie the game at 5-5 entering the bottom of the inning. Eagles’ head coach Brad Rolffs said he was proud of his team’s resilience in the face of adversity.
“We came out and battled. We didn’t give up. We’ve had times this year where things didn’t go our way, and we just would roll over – give up six, seven, eight, or nine runs – and just kind of give up. And we didn’t do that tonight,” said Rolffs. “We’ve been playing well lately – we came in with a three-game winning streak – and we’ve been trying to tell the guys that we’re going to make mistakes and bad things are going to happen – we’re going to walk people, we’re going to make an error – but we’ve got to bounce back and make the next play. Tonight we didn’t give up.”
In the bottom of the sixth, after PCM’s Kody Wilkie and Kurt Timmons reached base on fielding errors, Bryce Wignall slugged the go-ahead RBI double to put the Mustangs on top for good as part of a 2-for-4 night that included two RBI.
Not to be overlooked were the pitching performances for both teams, as Pella Christian’s Andrew Vander Hart and Will VandeVoort combined for seven strikeouts, while allowing six hits and three walks. PCM had their own dynamic duo, as starter Alex DeWitte rung up four batters and allowed six hits and two walks, before Joel Wiggins came in to close out the game and earn the win; mowing down eight batters and allowing three hits and two walks.
“Joel is just a fantastic pitcher in whatever role he comes in [for us]. Unfortunately, because of injuries, he’s been a reliever for us mostly this year. He’s been a starter in the past, and he’s just fantastic,” said PCM head coach Shawn Hudnut. “He throws mid-to-upper 80s with his fastball, and his curveball that he’s developed over time is phenomenal for a high school pitcher. When he’s on and throwing strikes with his fastball and locating that curveball, he’s pretty tough.”
The loss ends Pella Christian’s season at 12-23 overall, while PCM improves to 20-10. The Mustangs are off until Saturday, when they’ll face Interstate-35 in a Class 2A District Final. The Roadrunners toppled Des Moines Christian 3-2 in Tuesday’s other Semifinal.