Late-game heroics lands baseball team two wins
De Soto baseball coach Joel Thaemert went on even after the lights at De Soto's home field had been turned off. He talked about aspects of Tuesday's double headers that frustrated and plays that frustrated him, his pitchers' inability to throw consistently and his hitters' inability to drop successful bunts.
Finally, he stopped and looked around.
"Wait," he said. "What the heck am I complaining about? We just swept a doubleheader."
It wasn't pretty -- De Soto beat Central Heights 7-6 in the eight-inning first game and 10-9 in the second -- but they both displayed tenacious De Soto rallies and they'll both go down as wins.
In the end, that's enough for Thaemert and the Wildcats.
"They were two one-run games, but we really needed them," Thaemert said.
De Soto junior Brady Maasen emerged as the hero at the plate despite turning in only a moderate day by the stat book.
Moderate was good enough when the hits are coming late in the game.
Central Heights scored three runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at six, and both teams scored one in the seventh to send it to extra innings.
Jerod Bader started the eighth inning with his third hit of the night and Maasen ended the game two batters later, dropping a well-hit ball safely into the outfield for the key RBI.
Maasen again had the opportunity to be a hero in the second game.
The Vikings scored one run in the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. Aaron Hanson drew a five-pitch walk to start the seventh, however, and Maasen punished a ball to the center field fence. He raced around first and flew wildly through second base, sliding in under the tag at third, Hanson scoring safely in front of him to tie the game.
Jake Bosnak then singled one batter later, sending Maasen home for the game-winning run.
"We battled offensively, and that was very good," Thaemert said. "Maasen came up big in both games.
In all the excitement Thaemert said he saw plenty to like and a few things to be frustrated with.
He said he loved how his team fought back from difficult situations in both games. The Cats trailed 8-4 after three innings of the second game, then went down in order in the fourth inning.
An error by the shortstop led Austin DeGraeve on to start the fifth inning, and Erik Hill followed up with an RBI single that ricocheted off the mound. Bader scored Hill with an RBI triple and the Cats got their final run of the inning when Travis Crow drew a bases-loaded walk.
Other times, things were not so good. De Soto got in that 8-4 hole after taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. They also missed opportunities to win the first game without having to go to extra innings.
It's frustrating, Thaemert said, but a heck of a lot easier to work on when the mistakes came in close wins as opposed to close losses.
"We have to pitch better -- a lot better. We walked too many people and put our defense in tough situations," he said. "But (Central Heights) is a good team, so these were very good wins."