Things snowballed for both Plankinton and Crofton (Nebraska) on Sunday.
The Bankers piled up 11 hits and took advantage of eight Crofton errors on their way to a 10-7 win over the Bluejays in the second round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park. Plankinton (20-1) will play Winner/Colome at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Bankers have now won 19 straight games.
“The confidence is sky high and that’s key,” Plankinton’s Alex Loes said. “Hits are contagious as the old baseball saying goes. It’s been a great team effort so far.”
On Sunday, while Plankinton was tacking on the runs, Crofton was racking up the errors as the Bankers pulled ahead. The Bluejays committed six errors in the first four innings and spotted the Bankers a 7-1 advantage.
“The teams that go deep into the tournament are teams that take advantage of those mistakes by the other team,” Loes said. “Tonight we were fortunate enough to capitalize on those mistakes.”
Plankinton chased starter Ben Hegge after 4.1 innings. Hegge allowed eight hits, seven runs (three earned), walked three and struck out five batters.
Plankinton’s Travis Gant threw 7.1 innings. He gave up six hits, seven runs (three earned) and struck out three batters.
Offensively, Loes led Plankinton with four hits and two RBIs. He started the game with a lead-off double and later scored the first run on a passed ball. Orric Earl reached base on an error and Geno Katz scored for a 2-0 advantage.
The Bankers scored three runs in the fifth inning, with Crofton committing three errors in the frame. Loes smacked a two-run triple for a 6-1 lead. Loes came home when Katz hit a ground ball and reached on an error by Crofton shortstop Scot Donner.
“There’s only a couple innings we didn’t put up one run,” Plankinton co-manager and right fielder Chris Hill said. “That’s kind of demoralizing to a different team when the opposing team is putting up runs like that all the time.”
The Bankers played error-free baseball until committing two in the fifth inning and Crofton took advantage. The Bluejays plated four runs in the frame, highlighted by a Simon Healy (Irene pick-up player) two-run homer over the 340-foot left field fence. Nick Hegge later hit a two-out, two-run single.
After two quick innings in the sixth and seventh, Earl cracked an RBI double and later scored on a bases loaded walk. Crofton answered with a Tyler Zimmerman RBI triple and Zimmerman later scored on a throwing error.
The Bluejays could have added one more run in the frame, but Loes made an highlight-reel throw from center field to catcher Trevor Boyd to keep a run off the board. Loes collected Austin Hegge’s single to center field and threw out Jared Wiebelhaus at home plate on a bang-bang play.
“I kind of saw the runner double clutch at third base and as soon as I kind of let it go, i knew it had a chance to get him,” Loes said. “Luckily Boyd made the catch and it was a great tag by Boyd.”
In the ninth, Trevor Salmonson tacked on an insurance run with a two-out RBI single.
Up next, the Bankers will prepare for the Pheasants. But Hill isn’t sure who will get the call on the mound against Winner/Colome.
“We took it one game at a time and we will see where we are at,” Hill said. “I am not 100 percent sure yet. We have some decisions to make.”