Indians State Bound for First Time in Two Decades

Oskaloosa High School Baseball team is headed back to state for the first time in two decades. (photo by Jennifer Arnold)

by Wade Steinlage

The Oskaloosa Indian baseball team is going dancing at state after a pair of late-inning rallies last week.

For the first time since 1998 and just the second time in program history, Oskaloosa (28-13) has qualified for the state tournament. The Indians claimed the Class 3A District 12 title Monday with a 4-2 win over #9 Knoxville and then took down #3 Vinton-Shellsburg 2-1 in Wednesday’s Sub-State 6 contest to earn the berth.

The road to a state title will begin Monday night for the seventh-seeded Indians as they face #2 Harlan (34-2) at 7:30 p.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines.

Oskaloosa 4, Knoxville 2

The dream of state became nearly just that against the Panthers as Oskaloosa was down to its final two at-bats and had yet to break through against pitcher Kaleb Streigle.

Fortunately, buoyed by a strong home crowd, the Indians overcame a 2-0 deficit with four sixth-inning runs and claimed their third-consecutive district crown.

OHS posted a pair of hits in both the first and second frames, but could not bring any runners around, while Knoxville was also stymied in its initial four innings against Nick Harrington. The visitors finally broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth and stayed on top 2-0 entering the bottom of the sixth.

Showing a flair for the dramatic, the maroon and white, who held a 9-7 edge in hits, put it all together in the sixth, beginning with a Tucker Nunnikhoven single. Bennett Spry then reached base on an error, chasing Streigle from the game.

One out later, Ethan Arnold produced a game-tying double that brought home both Nunnikhoven and Spry.

Alex DeJong continued the hit parade with a single; he then stole second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. He was joined on the base paths by Blake Van Veldhuizen and the pair both came in on a two-out double by Peyton Crouse.

Nunnikhoven, Spry, Arnold, and DeJong all finished with two hits in the victory.

Crouse replaced Rian Yates, who had a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and he worked a perfect seventh (one strikeout) for the save. Yates earned the victory.

Harrington’s 4 2/3-inning effort included four strikeouts and three walks.

Oskaloosa 2, Vinton-Shellsburg 1

Having also done so in 2015 and 2016, Oskaloosa was no stranger to going on the road for a state berth and was ready to embark on another difficult journey. Vinton-Shellsburg entered the game at 35-5-1 and its starting pitcher Nathan Struve was perfect at 8-0.

The host Vikings, who were actually outhit 6-4 by the Indians, struck first in the pitcher’s duel, doing so in the third for their lone run.

OHS came from behind in its district semifinal against Chariton and then duplicated that performance against Knoxville, so the Indians knew they were still alive until the final out was recorded.

Entering the top of the seventh still down 1-0, Arnold led off with a single to center; he was replaced by pinchrunner Casey Hill. Hill then advanced to second on an error.

Starting pitcher Crouse, who was incredible with five strikeouts (no walks) in a complete game, helped his own cause with another single. He took second on the throw, putting the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with just one out. Blake Van Veldhuizen got Oskaloosa half way there with a pinch-hit groundout to plate Hill, while Seth Sarver served as the offensive hero with a single to right to score Crouse to put OHS up 2-1.

Sarver topped his squad with a pair of hits.

Crouse, who retired 13 of the last 14 batters that came to the dish, struck out the game’s final batter to send Oskaloosa to its first state tournament in 19 years.

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Posted by on Jul 23 2017. Filed under Local News, School Activities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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