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Bulldogs return to the state tournament

Clint Cole - DCN:  VM catcher Ben Engstrand (right) gives the game ball to Brandon Brittain after the Bulldogs beat Ogden in the district finals. The win gave Brittain a 7-0 pitching record on the season.
Clint Cole - DCN: VM catcher Ben Engstrand (right) gives the game ball to Brandon Brittain after the Bulldogs beat Ogden in the district finals. The win gave Brittain a 7-0 pitching record on the season.

Last season, the Van Meter baseball team went to the state tournament under head coach, Eric Trudo. This season, the Bulldogs are going back to Principal Park for the 2014 state baseball tournament under the leadership of their new head coach, Mike Kennedy.

In the substate tournament in Harlan on Tuesday night, the Bulldogs defeated St. Albert, Council Bluffs 5-1 to qualify for their second-straight state tournament appearance. Jake Chevalier started the game on the mound and pitched four innings, struck out two batters and gave up just one hit and one earned run, picking up the win.

This was the first time this season that Chevalier, a senior this year, has played.

Brandon Brittain relieved him in the final three innings and blanked St. Albert, striking out four batters and giving up two hits.

Chevalier, along with getting the win on the mound in his first game back, led the charge for the Bulldogs at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Logan Crawford went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored while Brittain went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Brittain also drew one walk.

Van Meter, the No. 3 seed in the state tournament, will play Regina, Iowa City, the No. 6 seed, on Monday night at Principal Park in Des Moines at 8 p.m. They winner will play in the semifinals on Wednesday at 8 p.m. with the Class 2A championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Brittain was in the zone against Ogden in Van Meter for the district 15 finals, striking out 13 batters while only allowing four hits and three earned runs in seven innings as the Bulldogs went on to win by a score of 10-3, earning them a spot in the substate final game in Harlan on Tuesday.

“That was the of rhythm and pace that we want him to pitch at,” VM coach Mike Kennedy said after the game against Ogden. “When he gets in that pace, he tends to throw even better, and so once he got a few strikeouts under his belt he was locating everything, all of his pitches.”

Brittain also went 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored. His double was nearly a homerun as he hit the ball off the fence.

The bats came alive for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth inning where they scored five runs, including one on Brittains RBI double and two more on a double by Zach Forret.

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