Avon bats held in check by Britton starterAvon accomplished a major goal in qualifying for this year’s state tournament but despite hanging around, it’s one and done for the Bards. Britton’s Justin Link threw a three-hit complete game and defeated Avon, 3-0, Thursday in the first round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park.
By: Marcus Traxler, The Daily Republic
Avon accomplished a major goal in qualifying for this year’s state tournament but despite hanging around, it’s one and done for the Bards.
Britton’s Justin Link threw a three-hit complete game and defeated Avon, 3-0, Thursday in the first round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park.
“It’s a very good start to the tournament. We don’t want to hold anything back and that’s how you get deep into the tournament,” Link said.
The Lumberjacks’ starter kept the Bards off-balance all day, exemplified in the first two innings, when he had three of the first seven hitters bounce into groundballs right back to him on the mound for easy outs. Link recorded six 1-2-3 innings on the mound to go with his six strikeouts and allowed no walks in the shutout performance.
“The team played really well and the hitting was there and our guys fielded well. All year they’ve told me to throw strikes and they said they would take care of the rest,” he said.
“Their pitcher was throwing well and we had a hard time hitting him,” said Avon co-manager Joe Sees, who opposed Link on the mound. “We were never out of it but we just didn’t string ‘em together.”
Britton (16-7) scored in the top of the first when rightfielder Troy Knecht doubled to score leadoff hitter Aaron Keppes, which would prove to be all Link would need on the mound.
The Lumberjacks would add a single run in the fourth inning on a fielders’ choice scoring Bill Bray and another in the ninth when Ryan Wagner was able to scamper home from third after an Avon error.
The performance on the mound from Sees was solid enough to keep his team around. He scattered hits throughout the game but could never get enough offensive help.
The Bards (12-12) received one hit apiece from Jeff Sands, Matt Yost and Jesse Hajek but those hits came in the second, third and fourth innings respectively and limiting any offensive production.
“The defense picked me up a number of times. We were lucky to only allow three runs, I guess,” Sees said.
Keppes, Knecht, Bray and Evan Jorde all had two hit games for the Lumberjacks, who had 12 hits in all. Britton will meet Clear Lake Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the second round.
According to Sees, the team set out to make the state tournament from the beginning of the season and said, all in all, it was a good year for a team that has only been in the South Central League for the last two seasons.
“To get to state is kind of a big deal for us and I thought we represented ourselves well today. It just didn’t turn out,” Sees said.