A long car ride home followed a lopsided Class B Area 3 Tournament loss Friday evening.
Fort Calhoun Senior Legion standout Justin Myer vowed not to get anymore frustrated about the 10-0 defeat while on the road home from West Point.
“I know it's not going to help us tomorrow,” he said.
Instead, Myer said he'd turn up the music and push the 0-1 tourney start out of his mind. Forget it.
“That's the best thing to do,” the slugger noted.
So, after losing by run-rule in 5 innings to Waterloo-Valley, the Post 348 Pioneers came back Saturday, scored four first-inning runs and beat Blair 9-7 — extending their summer season. Even after the Bears battled back from down 7-0, Calhoun held on with seldom-used relief pitcher Austin Welchert providing the bases-loaded, game-saving strikeout.
“That was one of the coolest things I've seen in awhile,” Pioneers coach Brandon Wynn said. “Big time moment.”
Welchert finished Post 154 off, while Tylan Conner picked up the pitching win after 5 1/3 innings of one-run baseball. The postseason result earned the Pioneers new life and a Sunday evening elimination game at the B3 tourney. Results can be found online at enterprisepub.com/sports or in Friday's Washington County Enterprise.
Against Blair, though, Post 348 completed an almost inexplicable turnaround after its 10-run loss in Friday's opener.
“They took it to heart,” Wynn said. “Came together.”
The Pioneers loaded the bases to start Saturday's win after not scoring a single run against Waterloo-Valley less than 24 hours prior. Ty Hallberg, Jake Seina and Conner waited on the basepath before Harrison Schmitt put the ball in play and forced a Bear miscue. Two runs scored on the error, setting up Zach Faucher's RBI single that pushed the Calhoun lead to 3-0.
Schmitt later scored on another first-inning error as the Pioneers built a four-run advantage. That lead grew to 7-0 during the top of the fifth inning and then 9-1 in the sixth — off of contact by Myer and Schmitt — before Blair battled back.
The Bears scored two runs in the sixth frame and four more during the seventh before Welchert was finally able to stamp out the rally. Hallberg, one the Pioneers' top starters, pitched in relief before Welchert, but left with Calhoun still ahead 9-3 to preserve his pitch count for future tournament games. It was a substitution Wynn said he regretted 30 seconds after he made it, but Post 348 made it work — eventually.
“Lots of confidence,” Wynn said.
Against Waterloo-Valley, Fort Calhoun seemingly lacked confidence and struggled from the start, falling behind 2-0 in the first inning. Seina, the pitcher, induced a groundout to start the bottom half, but the Pioneers' opponent scored just three batters later on an error. An RBI single followed and Post 348 already found itself down a pair.
“Our offensive side was not too bad,” Myer said. “It was our defensive side that killed us. Stupid errors.”
Seina doubled in the first inning and Schmitt singled during the top of the second, but Waterloo-Valley continued to score runs. It went ahead 3-0 on another error before all but putting the game away with a six-run third. That came after both Conner — who singled — and Myer — who walked — reached base in the top half of the frame.
Waterloo-Valley scored its six on two RBI doubles, a single and a 3-run double that flew deep into the outfield. Calhoun relief pitcher Tanner Jacobson finally ended the inning when he forced a flyout.
The Pioneers' foe scored its 10th run in the fourth inning and ended the game by run rule during the fifth when Seina walked, but no other Post 348 runners reached base.
“If you're hitting like crap, then you're hitting like crap,” Myer said. “You've got to work with it. You've got to make small adjustments as you go.”
Whatever adjustments the Pioneers made going into their bout with Blair paid off during the second day of the B3 Area Tournament. They beat the Bears for a second time this season and extended their 2021 campaign by at least a day.