John Hirl, Announcer
The Oskaloosa Baseball team has been knocking on the door of the State Tournament for 3 straight years. The Indians have lost in the Substate Final the previous two seasons to Pella, but last night Oskaloosa finally knocked that door down against a Vinton-Shellsburg team ranked 3rd in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Poll. It took a dominant pitching performance and clutch batting for the Indians to pull of the upset against the Vikings, and now they’re off to Principal Park in Des Moines for a chance to call themselves State Champions.
It was all pitching in this game, with runs hard to come by. Vinton Shellsburg (35-6-1) was the first team to put a run on the board when a passed ball allowed the Vikings to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd against Oskaloosa (28-13). From then on, no runs would come across until the 7th inning. Ethan Arnold led off the 7th, singling to put the tying runner on. Casey Hill was subbed in for Arnold and a couple pitches later, Hill advanced to 2nd on a Viking mistake. After an Alex DeJong flyout, Peyton Crouse stepped in and hit a ball into right to put Hill on 3rd and himself on 2nd. With the tying and winning runs on base, Blake VanVeldhuizen stepped in and hit an RBI groundout to short to tie it all up, 1-1. Seth Sarver then stepped in with a runner on 3rd and 2 away, and the senior came through in the clutch with a single to score Crouse and make it 2-1 Indians. Vinton-Shellsburg would come to bat in the bottom of the 7th facing a seemingly untouchable Peyton Crouse. The Vikings would get a runner on with 2 outs, but Crouse would end the game with huge strikeout to push the Indians to Principal Park.
Oskaloosa is now on to their second State Baseball Tournament in school history, and their first since 1998. The Indians have never won a game up at state however, as the last Osky team to advance to the tourney lost to Vinton-Shellsburg, who would go on to win it all that year. As mentioned previously, the Indians have believed this was possible for a couple of seasons now, and many thought the 2017 group had the best chance to make it to Des Moines.
Oskaloosa was assigned the #7 seed for the State Baseball Tournament and will play the #2 seed Harlan Cyclones (34-2). That game will take place at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, July 25th, at Principal Park. The No Coast Network will have coverage of the quarterfinals of the Class 3A State Tournament starting with the pregame at 7:15 on 99.5 FM KMZN, radiokmzn.com, and the KMZN mobile app.
Photo courtesy of: Blake VanVeldhuizen