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Bulldogs win close game in first round at state

Mike Ketelsen - DCN: Brandon Brittain of Van Meter had nine strikeouts and allowed just four hits on Monday night.
Mike Ketelsen - DCN: Brandon Brittain of Van Meter had nine strikeouts and allowed just four hits on Monday night.
Clint Cole - DCN: Van Meter catcher Ben Engstrand (right) tags out the runner from Iowa City, Regina in the first round of the state baseball tournament at Principal Park on Monday night. The Bulldogs won the game 2-1.
Clint Cole - DCN: Van Meter catcher Ben Engstrand (right) tags out the runner from Iowa City, Regina in the first round of the state baseball tournament at Principal Park on Monday night. The Bulldogs won the game 2-1.

It was a close Class 2A quarterfinal game at Principal Park when Van Meter matched up against Iowa City, Regina for the first round of the state baseball tournament on Monday. The third inning saw the only scoring of the game and the Bulldogs held off the Regals for a 2-1 win to advance to the semifinals.

“Outstanding” was the word VM coach Mike Kennedy used to describe the way the team played in the narrow victory.

Kennedy put Brandon Brittain on the mound to start the first game of the tournament. Brittain hit three batters in the game, but struck out nine batters and allowed just one earned run on four hits.

The hit batters by Brittain were not a concern for Kennedy.

“He’s hit a few guys before, but obviously he was living in the zone all night because he was pitching to contact and got a number of strikeouts,” Kennedy said.

With the 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Brittain hit the leadoff batter and put him on base before retiring the next three batters to secure the win and a place in the semifinals for the Bulldogs.

“A leadoff hit by pitch wasn’t my main goal, but coming back and throwing strikes and just getting right back after it and knowing that that isn’t going to hurt us,” Brittain said.

Along with picking up the win on the mound, Brittain also had the go-ahead RBI in the bottom of the third inning. He went 1-for-3 at the plate and also had a stolen base.

Jacob Eslick and Ben Flaherty scored the runs for the Bulldogs in the third inning with Zach Forret also having an RBI in the inning.

Kennedy said that he doesn’t think playing a tight game in the first round of the tournament hurts the Bulldogs at all.

“Now we know we can win a close game at the state tournament,” Kennedy said. “These kind of games allow you to grow.”

The Bulldogs will take on Beckman Catholic, Dyersville on Thursday in the semifinals. Beckman Catholic are the defending Class 2A state champions after going 36-6 a season ago.

At this year’s tournament, Beckman is the No. 2 seed despite having 13 losses this season, which is 11 more than Van Meter has.

Beckman Catholic held off Hinton and won 6-3 in their first-round game to advance to the semifinals.

The Bulldogs’ semifinal game against Beckman Catholic starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Principal Park in Des Moines.

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