Zeimet took over for Bormann in the second, down 2-0 with one out and two runners on. He sent down the final two Warriors batters to stop the bleeding, but on the offensive side, the Trojans didn’t have an answer for Van Buren ace Thomas Fitzsimmons. They were no-hit through the first three innings.
“There was a lack of intensity, I think,” Ash said. “We came out a little flat and a little timid. We had a tendency to do that all year.
“They’re a solid team with solid fundamentals, and that’s what we expected,” he added.
Cam Larson broke the bid with a leadoff grounder through short in the fourth. But a batter later he was doubled up when his brother, Colin, lined out to second baseman Austin Bartholomew, who threw it to first before Cam could tag up.
That continued a string of defensive gems for Van Buren. An inning before, third baseman Robby Laughlin made a leaping grab over the left foul wall in front of the Warriors crowd to end the inning. Over the last four innings, three (including the fourth) featured a Van Buren double play.
The Warriors added three late insurance runs to add pressure — one in the fifth and two in the seventh — thanks to RBIs from Robert Barker and Noah Whitten. Both players had two-hit games, along with teammate Will Mertens.
Cam Larson tallied both Trojans hits on the night. Otherwise, with exception to three walks, Fitzsimmons held Preston completely off the bags, finishing a complete-game shutout on five strikeouts.
Van Buren will play the 8 p.m. nightcap against Gilbertville Don Bosco during the first round of the Class 1A state tournament Saturday in Des Moines.
“Our eighth-graders and our freshman stepped up really good this year,” said Zeimet, who finished with six strikeouts and three earned runs on just over five innings pitched. It was also his last game as a Trojan. “I’m always going to remember all the good times I’ve had on this field with my friends.”