Winner/Colome has had a sense of urgency since being upset by Wagner in the District 5B tournament.
Coach Kevin Graesser said his team went through the motions that night. On Thursday at Cadwell Park staring down Plankinton’s 19-game winning streak, the Pheasants did the opposite, hitting the Bankers’ aces and shutting down their potent offense in an 11-1 seven-inning quarterfinal win.
“That was a defeat no one liked, and we came together after that game,” Dillon Lambley said. “... To go out there with good enthusiasm from the team and one through nine produces, good things are going to happen.”
The Pheasants (18-4) advance to the Class B amateur baseball semifinals against the winner of Alexandria and Milbank. Plankinton finishes the season 20-2.
Derek Graesser got the nod on the mound, though his usual nerves before a start quickly went away with Winner/Colome’s quick scoring. The Pheasants recorded multiple hits in three of the first four innings, with Lambley recording two of his five RBIs to help them take a 6-1 lead.
With a lead in hand, Graesser found success with his fastball and improving curveball during his 109-pitch complete game. He struck out nine as Orric Earl’s fourth-inning double drove in the Bankers’ only run.
“When my guys go out, hit the ball and take the lead, it takes a lot off my shoulders,” Derek Graesser said. “Makes me feel that much more confident.”
He nearly hit as many batters (3) as he allowed hits (5). Earl and Chris Hill each had two hits.
“We came out a little tight, we were a little nervous,” player-manager Hill said. “It was strange because the whole year we weren’t like that at all.”
Led by Lambley’s 4-for-5 day and Reed Harter hitting 4-for-4 with two RBIs, the Pheasants’ lead only grew thanks to aggressive base running. Harter legged out a double on a sharp line drive to center in his first at-bat, setting the tone for the Pheasants who ran Josh Engquist out of the game after a six-run, four-inning start.
They took extra bases on four Plankinton errors, which sparked Winner/Colome’s four-run seventh inning against Travis Gant. Jeff Harris scored on a wild pitch, followed by Hill over-running Lambley’s single in right field to allow two runs to score and push the Pheasants’ lead to 10.
“We’ve been hitting the ball, but we haven’t been scoring runs,” coach Graesser said. “We were able to put some hits together and put some crooked numbers up there.”
Austin Calhoon, Austin Richey and Zach Harter all had two hits for Winner/Colome, which finished with 15 in the win. Reed Harter and Calhoon both drove in a pair of runs, too.
“They’re a great hitting ball club. They were hitting everything,” Hill said. “It’s definitely not the way we wanted to finish out the year. We had a good season and a good run. But we couldn’t put the ball in play and they did. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”