The Pella Christian Eagles played host to the Union/Laporte City Knights in the opening round of the Class 2A District 10 baseball tournament Saturday night.
The Knights were the bottom seed in the tourney and they had their sights clearly focused on the Eagles.
What clearly looked like a potential run away by the Eagles after the first inning, turned into a nail biter in the late innings.
Pella Christian put three quick runs on the board in the bottom of the first and then had to fight for their lives to post a 4-2 win.
In the bottom of the first inning, Lawson Bruxvoort coaxed a base on balls to get things rolling and then he swiped second. Dan Jungling slashed a double to right-center to score Bruxvoort.
The Knights pitched very carefully to slugger, Will Dembski, and walked him. Devin Haveman sent a screaming double to the base of the fence in left-center to drive in both Jungling and Dembski.
But suddenly the Eagle bats fell silent and they stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth.
Meanwhile, Dembski breezed through the first three innings and then PC Coach, Jeff Bruxvoort had a decision to make.
If he stayed with Dembski, the sturdy right hander would not be able to go on Tuesday. If he were to replace Dembski, Dembski would be able to go on Tuesday. The choice was to go to the bullpen.
Lawson Bruxvoort was called on to pitch the fourth inning. The Knights drew a pair of walks to open the inning and then a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out.
Bruxvoort fanned the next batter and was on the verge of getting out of the mess when an error allowed a run to score. The third out was recorded by a fielder’s choice.
The Knights added a second run in the top of the fifth. An error and a walk put the first two hitters on and the call went to the bullpen for Devin Haveman.
The runners were able to move up and Union pitcher Anthony Kiler squeezed a run home. A single and a hit batsman loaded the sacks before a ground ball to third resulted in a force out at home for the second out. Haveman then got a big strike out and the Eagles had dodged another bullet.
In the top of the sixth, Union was back for more. A walk and a sacrifice put the tying run on second. After a walk and a strikeout, the play of the game occurred.
Kiler lined a single to right. Jungling nabbed the ball and fired a strike to cut-off man, Matthew Bokoven. Bokhoven whirled and fired another strike to Lawson Burxvoort at the plate to cut down the tying run.
Finally in the bottom of the sixth, the PC bats came back. Luke Mulder led off with a sizzling smash down the first base line. Stone Turner sacrificed Mulder to second and then a single by Cole Webster brought home an insurance run.
It appeared that the insurance run might be needed as the Knights put the first two batters on in the top of the seventh with a base hit and a walk.
Then Haveman bore down and fanned the next three batters to gain the save and provide relief to an anxious group of Eagle fans.
“We had a great start,” Coach Burxvoort said. “But then we couldn’t get hits to fall. We hit the ball, but right at them and they made the plays. The run in the sixth was huge for us. We had to execute several things right to get that run and the kids did well. Give credit to Union. They were ready for us and they pitched well.”
Jungling and Haveman had the big bats for the Eagles. They both had doubles with Haveman driving in two runs and Jungling one. Jungling also had a single and a big defensive play.
Pella Christian hitting: Dan Jungling 2-for-3, Haveman 1-for3, Luke Mulder 1-for-3, Cole Webster 1-for-3, Blake Veenstra 1-for-3
2B – Jungling 1, Haveman 1
Pella Christian runs: Bruxvoort 1, Jungling 1, Dembski 1, Mulder 1
Pella Christian RBI: Haveman 2, Jungling 1, Webster 1