The Pella baseball team made a stirring comeback in last night’s Class 3-A District Tournament opener to force extra inning, but ran out of lucky breaks in the eighth inning, as Carlisle downed the Little Dutch 4-3. The Wildcats opened the game with a lead-off home run from Derek Dunn as part of a two-run first inning, but Pella pitcher Alex Hardine calmed down and allowed just one hit over the next three innings, before Dunn struck again with another solo home run in the fifth inning.
While Carlisle was getting just enough offense to stay in front, their defense was led by pitcher Jared Shoning, who baffled Pella’s hitters at the plate with an impressive array of fastballs, sliders and curveballs. Shoning was looking unstoppable and had a no-hitter going through 6 1/3 innings, before Pella’s Ryan Lanke dribbled a single down the third base line that sparked a seventh-inning rally for the Little Dutch.
Two consecutive hit batsmen would load the bases for Pella, and a wild pitch and subsequent error on the throw back to the plate allowed two runs to score for the Little Dutch. With Paul Anderson on third base, pinch hitter Nic Gerdes picked up a huge full-count walk to bring Schyler Kane to the plate for Pella. Down by one run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and a 1-2 pitch count, Kane hit a line shot through the infield to score Anderson from third and tie the game at 3-3. Carlisle would retire the next batter to end the inning, but Pella’s three-run rally had forced extra innings in a game they had mostly been shut out of.
The Wildcats led-off the eighth inning with a single and picked up a hit batsman, before a grounder up the center of the infield was bobbled by Pella and led to what would be the game’s winning run. Carlisle’s Derek Dunn went to the mound in the eighth inning in relief of Shoning and retired the side to close out the victory for the Wildcats.
The win advances Carlisle to the second round of the District Tournament, where they will face South Tama in Pella on Monday night. The Trojans advanced with a surprising 9-3 victory over Grinnell. For the Pella baseball team, a season that showed great improvement ended with an overall record of 11-17. The Little Dutch won just five games the previous season.