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Van Buren vs. North Linn

July 25, 2015

In a game that featured three lead changes and two ties, the seventh-seeded North Linn Lynx defeated previously undefeated Van Buren 6-3 in eight innings in a Class 1A quarterfinal game Saturday night at Principal Park

The second-seeded and second-ranked Warriors had won 29 straight.

With the score 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, North Linn got a two-out RBI single from Ryan Miller to drive in Jake Hilmer and put the Lynx up 3-2. Miller’s base-hit went past the glove of reliever Braxton Bainbridge who attempted to stab the liner.

Hilmer retired the first Van Buren batter in the bottom of the seventh before Garrett Saunders laced a single. Austin Bartholomew flew out to centerfield, pushing Van Buren to its final out. Will Martens rapped a game-tying RBI double off the left field wall, sending the game into extra-innings at 3-3.

The Lynx clawed right back in the top of the eighth. Brad Pflughaupt coaxed a leadoff walk and was moved over to second base with a Sean Boardman sacrifice bunt. David Seber hit an infield single to put runners at first and third base with one out.

Hilmer was right in the mix again, and laid down the go-ahead suicide squeeze bunt that scored Pflughaupt. The Lynx added two more runs on a pop out that kicked off the heel of Bartholomew’s mitt at second base, allowing North Linn to go ahead 6-3.

Van Buren had one more gasp in the bottom of the seventh, getting a one-out triple from Brandon Plecker, but Hilmer retired the next two batters to close out the game.

Hilmer — an eighth-grader — improved to 13-2 on the year, going 8.0 innings while allowing three runs, two earned on six hits and five walks. He struck out six on the mound while also going 1-for-2 with a team-high two RBI and two runs.

Robert Barker started for a Van Buren team that came into action with a miniscule 1.31 team-ERA and .161 opponents’ batting average. The junior spun a quality start, going 6.0 innings, scattering seven hits and four walks to allow only three runs, two of which were earned. He fanned four in the no-decision.

Bainbridge came on in relief for Barker during the top of the seventh and was roughed up for three runs, one earned, on two hits and two walks in 2.0 innings. He struck out three as he fell to 5-1 on the season.

North Linn left nine runners on base and didn’t record an extra-base hit all night, but at least one hit from seven different batters proved to be enough.

Van Buren was held to six hits, with Saunders, Mertens and Plecker all going 2-for-4.

The North Linn and Van Buren extra-inning contest was the second extra-inning affair of the day after Pleasantville outlasted West Sioux 5-4 in nine innings just hours earlier.

The Lynx (35-10) will move on to face the Pleasantville Trojans in a No. 7 vs. No. 3 seed semifinals matchup on Thursday, July 30 back at Principal Park.

Cedar Rapids Gazette: North Linn wins

Ottumwa Courier: First loss for Van Buren a tough one