Pete Timdal has been waiting all season for the Iola-Scandinavia baseball team to play a complete game. He finally got his wish.
The Thunderbirds opened state tournament play May 24 by handing Wild Rose a 13-2 defeat in a Division 3 subregional. The fifth-seeded T-Birds were scheduled to play top-seeded Amherst May 28 in a regional semifinal, with the winner of that game advancing to a regional final May 29.
“We’ve been playing a lot better lately, we just haven’t put a complete game together,” said Timdal, the team’s first-year coach. “We’d have one inning where we’d have a couple errors or a couple walks and we lose control of the situation. Today, that didn’t happen.”
The T-Birds didn’t waste any time scoring, as John Prahl led off the game with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Hunter Gruenwald scored on a bases-loaded walk and Holdyn Mast added a two-run single in the top of the first.
Wild Rose starter Aaron VandeCastle lasted only two-thirds of an inning after giving up three hits and two walks to the first seven batters he faced.
“We know the feeling,” Timdal said. “You start walking guys and it starts going downhill fast. He had a quick trigger there and took him out right away. It worked out a little for them, but we started hitting the ball, too. We have some guys that can hit the ball. We just haven’t been getting timely hits this year.”
Meanwhile, T-Bird starter Connor Lodewegen scattered three hits and a walk over five innings. He retired the Wildcats in order until Jack Butzin led off the bottom of the fourth with a single.
“When we throw strikes, everybody stays involved, stays focused and we don’t have as many errors,” Timdal said. “Connor struggled with his curveball a little today, but he threw the fastball where he wanted to all the time. If we can stay away from the walks, we’re kind of dangerous.”
I-S added a run in the third on an error and single. Wild Rose came up with runs in the fourth and fifth before the T-Birds put the game out of reach with a seven-run sixth inning that included Mast’s second two-run single of the game.
Timdal is looking forward to his team’s rematch with Amherst, which also competes in the Central Wisconsin 8 Conference. The teams split their two games during the regular season.
“We lost 8-1 in the conference game,” Timdal said. “Connor pitched a really good game, but we had a couple errors and a couple walks. I think they scored five in the fifth to bust it open. We hit the ball really well in the nonconference game, they struggled with pitching and we won 6-4.
“One of our team goals was to beat Amherst this year,” he added. “We didn’t do it in the conference game, but we got them in the nonconference game. Now we have another shot. Hopefully, we can keep moving forward.”