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Heading into the Class 2A Bureau Valley Regional quarterfinal, the No. 4-seeded St. Bede baseball team knew it had to be prepared to avoid a first-round loss.
St. Bede starting pitcher Jarret Olson took the worry away as he allowed three hits, struck out 14 and walked none in a 6-0 victory over No. 5-seeded Bureau Valley in Peru to advance to the semifinals to play No.1-seeded Hall.
“Coach preaches about keeping the ball low — keep everything low — because it results in good pitching,” Olson said. “In my last outing, I kept the ball low and had a good outing against Orion. I just tried to do the same thing against Bureau Valley in Game 1 of regionals. It’s an important game because teams sometimes fall asleep in Game 1. You have to come out, play well and as a pitcher you have to pitch well to get your team going.”
The sophomore pitcher, centerfielder and No. 3 hitter in the lineup made only his 14th appearance for the Bruins this season because of injury.
SBA coach John Bellino said having him back in time to get into rhythm before regionals was key for his team in the postseason.
“He’s very capable. He throws strikes. Jarret’s going to be an excellent pitcher in the future for us,” Bellino said. “We don’t have enough good athletes to begin with. When you lose one of your better athletes it always hurts. He fills a big void for us in centerfield and pitching, and he hits the ball very well.”
Shortstop and lead-off hitter Matt Szczepaniak helped give the Bruins the lead from the very beginning.
After Szczepaniak hit a single, second baseman Jack Brady advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt and Ethan Duttlinger got him to third by putting the ball into play to force one of the Storm’s two errors in the game.
Olson came through with an RBI double to score Szcepaniak and senior third baseman Michael Bellino recorded an RBI as Dutllinger scored.
Michael Bellino brought in Szczepaniak for his second run of the game in the third inning on an RBI double.
Szczepaniak wasn’t done scoring as he was brought in on an RBI single from Duttlinger in the sixth inning.
This came after Szczepaniak recorded an RBI single of his own and before Olson hit an RBI single to score Duttlinger for a 6-0 lead after six innings.
BV had trouble connecting on Olson’s pitching the entire game and it continued in the sixth and the top of the seventh as the Storm was only able to record one hit in the third, fifth and seventh innings.
“As the year went on, there were three things we really tried to preach — defense, trying to throw strikes while pitching and hitting,” BV coach John Matlick said. “With a 3-19 record, usually one of those three let us down.
“Today, pitching wise, we held ourselves in the game. Defensively, we didn’t make too many mistakes. It was just offensively you can’t strike out 14 times. That’s not making the defense make any mistakes or try too hard. (Olson) did a nice job and he’s a good pitcher. Not taking anything away from him but if we put a little more pressure on him it might have been a little different of a game.”
The win advances the Bruins to the semifinals to face the Red Devils.
Hall won both games the teams played during the regular season, but the wins were not easy as the Red Devils were victorious 8-7 in eight innings April 8 in Spring Valley and 6-4 on May 1 in Peru.
“We’ve lost two heartbreakers to them,” Olson said. “Our (10-14) record definitely doesn’t really reflect on how good of a team we are because they’re one of the best teams in the area and we contended with them. We had them in both games but they came up with key hits in the seventh inning. We just have to be able to close it out this game.”
BV starting pitcher Kyle Rokey took the complete-game loss after allowing six runs — four earned — on eight hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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