BIG ROCK – Hinckley-Big Rock pitcher Dutch Schneeman fired a high fastball with his final pitch of the game.
Indian Creek’s Chris Pickwell couldn’t catch up.
It was Schneeman’s third strikeout of the seventh inning and his seventh in the contest. The end result was a 5-0 Royals win in the Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional at Kenny Field, a contest where Schneeman gave up just one hit.
Schneeman looked just as strong in the seventh inning, when he struck out the side, as he did in the first.
“The runs, my team helped me out there, gave me some energy. I just felt good there at the end,” he said. “Stayed strong, my team helped me out.”
The top-seeded Royals (18-8) will play Hiawatha, which beat Alden-Hebron, 4-1 in the second semifinal.
Indian Creek (8-13-1) shortstop David Boehne led off the game doing what Timberwolves coach Joe Piekarz wanted his team to do – hit the ball up the middle.
Boehne’s ball was a single. However, fourth-seeded Indian Creek wouldn’t get another hit the rest of the game. Schneeman walked and hit a batter, while Boehne would reach on an error in the third.
Royals coach Brad Unger said Schneeman pitched as well as he did – he retired the last 14 hitters – without his best stuff. With H-BR on a three-game losing streak coming in, Unger felt Schneeman accomplished what any ace is supposed to do: end a skid.
“Dutch has been our ace all year. That’s what aces do,” Unger said. “Aces stop losing streaks and they throw up Ws, and that’s exactly what he did for us today, and he was huge.”
H-BR got Schneeman some help early, with Austin Scott driving in Mitch Ruh on a double in the first, while the Royals got the second run on an error later in the inning.
The Royals scored their third run in the third on a Luke Winkle RBI single. H-BR added its fourth tally on a Jacob Ryan single which drove in Zach Michels in the fourth inning, and finished off the scoring in the sixth on a Bailey McQueen RBI single.
Something that didn’t’t help H-BR was leaving runs on the basepaths, as Pickwell, who threw a complete game for Indian Creek, picked off two runners.
“That’s his strength. I think he has well over 10 pickoffs this year. We always know going in that he’s going to be able to shut down a running game,” Piekarz said. “It’s all about just making sure we make the plays for him. We didn’t’t make enough plays today, and they made us pay. Any time we did make an error, that guy seemed to score. But I thought Chris did a really nice job pitching, not only today but the entire season.”
Burger notches save in Hawks’ win: Hiawatha coach Sean Donnelly didn’t want to use ace pitcher Tyler Burger in his team’s 4-1 win over the third-seeded Giants.
However, with starter Mike Mercado struggling with his command, it got to the point where Donnelly had no choice. Mercado gave up just one run in 4 1/3 innings but walked six.
Burger relieved Mercado giving up just one hit and striking out four in his 2 2/3 innings of work. Donnelly said the current plan is to have Burger start against H-BR on Saturday.
“I talked to our assistant coach, I looked at him I said ‘don’t have tomorrow if we don’t win today.’ So we had to go with what we needed,” Donnelly said. “We threw Burger a little more than we probably would have wanted to, but he’s had a lot of rest coming into today. He’s got a couple days to rest, didn’t throw a lot of pitches. I think he’ll be good to go for Saturday.”
All season, a goal for the No. 2 seed Hawks (10-8-2) has been to win a regional title. They’ll get that chance Saturday. Game time is 11 a.m. at Kenny Field.
“This is something our school, we’re not really used to,” Hiawatha second baseman Donald Giebel said. “Especially our baseball program. It’s been down, we’ve tried to bring it back the past few years.”