Key run aided by balk
Going into Tuesday’s Class 1A Substate 4 final, Lisbon knew it wasn’t going to get many hits off Preston pitcher Colton Bormann.
So the Lions came up with another plan to try to score.
“Our goal was when we had a baserunner to make him throw over there at least four or five times,” Lisbon coach Ryan Stensland said. “We wanted, more than anything, to pester him because we knew we weren’t going to get much at the plate.”
Lisbon put that into practice in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kolbi Kohl singled to lead off the inning and took a large lead.
Bormann threw over several times before getting Ben Knake to pop out to second base. The mind games continued when Jordan Bahl came to the plate next.
“I was kind of having fun with it, too,” Bormann said. “(Kohl) had a huge lead, so I kept throwing over there. I’d get back on the mound quickly and (Bahl) would step out. I don’t know what they were doing, but that’s baseball for you.”
Stensland credited the use of a three-man umpiring crew used in substate games for calling the balk.
“We’ve seen Colton before and we kind of know that pickoff routine,” Stensland said. “We’ve been drilling that in practice, trying to mimic what he does. We’ve argued before, told other umpires, that we think sometimes he gets that movement going forward and then brings it back. The difference is in the this game we have three umpires. That guy (at third base) can see that balk perfectly. ... When you’ve got three, that makes a difference.”
Bormann was called for a balk, allowing Kohl to reach second base.
“I thought there was time out and I stepped back,” Bormann said. “Apparently the guy said I double-clutched, so I guess I have to go with it.”
Bahl then singled to right field, and Kohl scored from second to give Lisbon a 1-0 lead.
Lisbon pitcher Marshall Morgan said it looked to him as if Bormann was distracted by Kohl’s lead.
“He was more worried about the guy on first than pitching the ball,” Morgan said.
That run proved to be all Lisbon and Morgan needed as the Lions advanced to the state tournament with a 2-0 win.
Two big plays make difference as Morgan outduels Bormann
Sometimes the difference between a berth in the state tournament and the end of a season is one or two plays.
That’s what happened to Preston (30-7) on Tuesday night, but unfortunately for the Trojans both of the key plays went Lisbon’s way. The result was a season-ending 2-0 loss for Preston in the Class 1A Substate 4 final.
“We tried,” Preston coach Mark Bormann said. “We knew it was going to be like that. Three days ago, we knew it would be a good game.”
Both teams came in to the game rated in the top 10, each had 30 wins or more and the starters made for a dream pitching matchup.
The first key play came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kolbi Kohl lead off the inning for Lisbon with a single. After an out, Preston pitcher Colton Bormann was called for a balk that put Kohl in scoring position.
“They said he came set twice,” coach Bormann said. “I didn’t see it, but it’s their call. That’s the way it goes. They saw something. I’m still kind of baffled by it.”
Jordan Bahl then hit a 1-1 pitch into right field, knocking in Kohl to give Lisbon a 1-0 lead.
Lisbon (34-7) got its next key play in the bottom of the fifth when freshman Keegan Tritle hit the first pitch he saw from Colton Bormann over the center-field fence.
“That was the first time I threw a curveball on the first pitch, and I left it up in the zone,” Colton Bormann said.
“He hung a curveball right down the middle,” Tritle said. “I kept my weight back and swung. Luckily, it went out.”
Two runs were more than enough for Lisbon as it advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2007.
“I think the Tritle home run was just a dagger,” Lisbon coach Ryan Stensland said.
Coming into the game, much of the talk was about the pitching matchup between Bormann and Lisbon ace Marshall Morgan. The two faced each other during the regular season, and each threw nine shutout innings before Preston won the game 1-0 in 10 innings.
“We knew coming into this that we were going to have to scrape for a run or two,” Stensland said.
“It’s something to look forward to,” Colton Bormann said of the pitching duel. “You know one or two runs is going to win a game like this. From the very beginning, we knew it was going to be close. We were trying to scratch for one or two. We just couldn’t get there.”
Both pitchers threw well, combining to allow seven hits and no walks.
“He did real well, except for one pitch,” coach Bormann said of his son.
“I knew they were a good hitting team and put the ball in play,” Colton Bormann said. “I kept the ball down. I think most of the outs were ground-ball outs.”
Of the 18 outs, he had one strikeout, three popouts and everything else was on the ground. Morgan struck out eight Trojans.
“I felt like my stuff was working and they couldn’t touch it,” Morgan said. “I just kept throwing it where it needed to be thrown.”
Coach Bormann said when Morgan was on the mound for Lisbon, he was good enough to always give his team a chance to win.
“They’ve got the one good pitcher,” coach Bormann said. “Anytime they play that pitcher, they can beat anybody.”
Morgan improved his record to 15-1, including 4-0 in the postseason during which he has pitched 22 of the 26 innings Lisbon has played. Colton Bormann dropped to 7-2.
“I told Colton coming through the line, I said, ‘You’re probably the smartest, most savvy pitcher I’ve seen,’” Stensland said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a dogfight to try to scrape something against one of, I think, the better pitchers in the state.”
Preston threatened to score first in the game. Austin Daniels, who had two of Preston’s three hits, led off the second inning with a single to left field and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder.
“I wasn’t trying to predict anything, just see it and hit it,” Daniels said.
But Morgan struck out the next three batters to end the Trojans’ threat. In the next inning, Jason Feddersen hit a two-out single and stole second. But once again, Morgan struck out the next batter to end the inning. Preston came to bat with a runner in scoring position four times and struck out each time.
“Our big players didn’t show up in the big game, I guess,” coach Bormann said.
Daniels other hit came with one out in the seventh, allowing Preston to send the tying run to the plate twice in its final at-bat of the season. The Trojans only had to look back a year to keep hope — they beat Iowa Mennonite School 5-4 in the substate final on Feddersen’s three-run, walk-off home run.
This time, though, a popup and another strikeout ended Preston’s season.
“We were hoping to get three or four runs and we figured we’d be going to state,” coach Bormann said. “But we couldn’t even muster one.”
Preston won a school-record 30 games, but fell one short of its goal of returning to the state tournament for a third consecutive year.
“It’s a tough loss,” Daniels said. “We wanted to end the year by going to state, but it happens. We played hard. We didn’t play bad. We just needed to hit the ball a little better.
“It was a good season; I wouldn’t trade it.”
Daniels was one of seven seniors who played his final game for the Trojans. Coach Bormann said that group meant a lot to the program, but the future was still bright.
“We’ve got a good junior class and a couple nice sophomores,” he said. “We’ve got three of our top four pitchers coming back, so that’s something to build around.”
LISBON 2, PRESTON 0
Preston 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Lisbon 000 110 x — 2 4 1
Colton Bormann (6 ip, 4 h, 2 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 so) and Blake Tebbe; Marshall Morgan (7 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 8 so) and Hunter Caspers. Multiple hits — Preston (Austin Daniels 2). HR — Lisbon (Keegan Tritle). RBIs — Lisbon (Jordan Bahl, Tritle).
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