MEDIAPOLIS — The Mediapolis High School baseball team’s SEI Superconference North Division-clinching game wasn’t full of scorching hits to the fence.
Mediapolis coach Rick Whitaker will take it just the same.
The Bulldogs found holes in Pekin’s defense for three straight three-run innings, and pitcher Cauy Massner tossed a four-hitter as Mediapolis rolled to a 10-0 win over the Panthers in five innings, securing the division title for the second year in a row.
Pekin, along with Iowa Mennonite School, had a chance to chase down the Bulldogs, but Mediapolis took care of business on its home field Thursday for Senior Night.
“Our two big hits were a blooper to right field and a grounder between shortstop and third base,” Whitaker said. “That’s baseball, just finding holes sometimes. The key was putting the ball in play.”
The tone was set in the opening inning. The Panthers left the bases loaded and the Bulldogs scored three times on no hits in their half of the inning.
“We had some errors in there, and you can’t give a good team like that extra outs,” Pekin coach Curtis Reighard said. “They hit the ball and we didn’t, but we’re a better hitting team than we showed.”
“That first inning was huge,” Whitaker said. “If they get a hit there we’re down two runs. That’s tough to eat early in the game.”
Mediapolis (17-6, 12-2 division) took a 6-0 lead in the second inning as Zach Osborne and Alex Diewold came up with RBI singles and Ben Wolgemuth followed with a sacrifice fly. Osborne reached base four times and Wolgemuth drove in three runs.
The Bulldogs also put pressure on the Panthers (11-8, 9-4) on the bases. They took advantage of great team speed to make it easier to drive in runs.
“I have a green-light policy with six or seven guys, and we push ourselves to be aggressive,” Whitaker said.
Pekin starter Kennan Winn didn’t make it out of the second inning. He struck out one and allowed six runs, while Chase Stansberry allowed four runs over 3 1/3 innings of relief.
“I thought Kennan was pretty close (around the zone),” Reighard said. “I thought the zone was decent for both teams.”
Massner made it an 8-0 game in the third on an RBI double, then scored on a ground out. The game ended in the fifth when Brennan Breuer singled in Diewold with two outs.
Massner struck out seven, but the Panthers started to execute better offensively in the later innings. However, he threw a 1-2 breaking ball for a called third strike to leave the bases loaded in the top of the fourth.
“He really changed speeds well. He can throw two different change-ups,” Whitaker said. “His curve is usually on and it’s tough, so we don’t have to worry about that.”
Pekin and Mediapolis have waged some excellent battles over the years, but this year was different. The Bulldogs won by mercy rule both times.
“They’re a well-coached team and we have a lot of respect for them,” Whitaker said. “For some reason, especially tonight, we were able to find the holes.”
Chad Drury can be reached at email@example.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury