STATE CENTER — Practices leading up to Tuesday’s Class 2A District 10 semifinals were good, energy was high and Prairie City-Monroe’s baseball team seemed ready for its matchup with Pella Christian.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs played maybe their worst game of the season, and PCM coach Jeff Lindsay didn’t see it coming.
PCM’s pitchers walked five batters and the defense committed a season-high eight errors as the Eagles used a two-run home run in the first inning to grab a lead and then tacked on several unearned runs during an 8-1 victory.
“Practices we have had leading up to tonight were really good. They were enthusiastic and everybody was loose. Our fielding was sharp in practices,” Lindsay said. “All of the sudden, we came out tense and I am not sure where that came from.”
The loss to Pella Christian was the second-seeded Mustangs’ only defeat against a 2A program this season.
Devin Haveman powered a two-run home run over the fence in right-center field in the top of the first inning, and that blast held up for the Eagles.
“I don’t know how much that affected the guys. We have faced deficits before and came back from them,” Lindsay said of the early home run.
Third-seeded Pella Christian will play top-seeded West Marshall in the district championship game on Saturday. West Marshall blitzed East Marshall, 11-1, in the other semifinal game.
PCM starting pitcher Derek Brown got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but Pella Christian (16-14) added two more runs in the third. A collision in the outfield was the second error of the game for the Mustangs.
Another error on a ground ball led to the fourth run. The Mustangs entered the game averaging 1.2 errors per game but committed two in the third and four in the seventh.
PCM (17-5) got its lone run in the bottom of the third. Wes Cummings led off the frame with a single and then Brown was hit by a pitch.
Reed Worth found the gap on his second plate appearance and his RBI single scored Cummings. An error by the Eagles allowed Preston Van Wyk to load the bases with nobody out.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs couldn’t take advantage as Brayton Van Dyke struck out and Dane Owens hit a rocket to first base, but the at-bat resulted in a double play.
“That could have taken the wind out of us,” Lindsay said. “It was still only 4-1 at that point, but we were expecting to get more out of that inning. Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Pella Christian starter Will Dembski surrendered a single to Brown in the fifth, a single to Owens in the sixth and a single to Cummings in the seventh but that was it as PCM was limited to six hits.
“Other than the one inning, we weren’t able to get multiple guys on base with less than two outs like we did all year,” Lindsay said. “I think that maybe took some winds out of our sails.”
The Eagles made it 5-1 in the fourth on a single, stolen base and two ground ball outs. They plated three runs in the top of the seventh, but all three runs were unearned as the Mustangs committed four errors in the frame.
Cummings led the Mustangs with two hits and a stolen base. Brown had one hit and reached on a hit by pitch and the other hits came from Worth, Owens and Caleb Duinink. Cummings scored a run and Worth tallied an RBI.
PCM came into the game averaging eight runs per game and batting .337 as a team, But Dembski (8-1) kept traffic on the bases to a minimum, didn’t walk a batter and struck out nine.
“We faced a tough pitcher. His breaking pitch early on was catching us,” Lindsay said. “We adjusted well eventually, but he’s a quality pitcher.”
Brown took the loss on the mound, allowing five runs — three earned — on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts in five innings. Andrew Mitchell tossed the final two innings and allowed three unearned runs on one hit with one walk and one strikeout.