ELK HORN, Iowa — Michael Dentlinger did all of his pitching last summer on the Coon Rapids-Bayard junior varsity team.
On Wednesday, Dentlinger served notice that he’s more than capable of being a front-line varsity hurler.
The junior left-hander allowed two hits and one run in six innings as Coon Rapids-Bayard edged Exira-EHK 3-1 in a key Rolling Valley Conference baseball matchup.
“We got probably more than we expected out of Dentlinger,” coach John Waddle said. “He really worked hard during the offseason, and he’s really been coming on, gaining confidence on the mound.”
Coon Rapids-Bayard, rated 10th in Iowa’s Class 1-A and fourth in western Iowa (Class 2-A/1-A) by The World-Herald, improved to 12-4 overall and 5-2 in league play. Western Iowa No. 2 Exira-EHK dropped to 5-2 and 4-2.
CR-B avenged a 5-4 home loss to the Spartans on May 27, and Waddle, with 654 career victories, said any win at Elk Horn should be appreciated.
“They’re the two-time defending champs,” he said. “They’re always tough. They don’t give you a lot. Their pitching’s always good, and they play good defense.”
Exira-EHK starter Brady Hansen turned in a valiant effort but got little offensive support. He allowed just two hits while striking out eight, but the Crusaders worked him hard. He walked seven and hit two while making 138 pitches in 6-2⁄3 innings.
“Whenever he’s had a problem or gotten in trouble, it’s because of his control,” said coach Tony Petersen. “He’s got good enough stuff to win most of the games at the high school level.”
The Crusaders broke through against Hansen in the sixth. Zach Evans broke up Hansen’s no-hitter with a single. Hansen fielded Dentlinger’s bunt and fired errantly to second for an error.
Liam McAlister sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Evans scored on a wild pitch. Sam Obert’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Brody Schlepp’s single and three walks gave the visitors an insurance run in the seventh.
The Spartans made it interesting. Cole Madsen’s single put runners at first and second with no outs. After a flyout, reliever Evans threw wildly to second after fielding a line drive to load the bases. But batter Tyson Partridge was retired by the infield fly rule, and Josh Pettepier scored to make it 3-1. Drew Buckholdt popped out with the tying run at second.
Coon Rapids-Bayard, which reached the 1-A state tournament last year, has been playing this season without two starters who have violated the school’s good-conduct policy. Waddle was asked if that has altered his expectations.
“No,” he said. “We’ve got to be a little more patient than what we wanted to be.”
In the other dugout, some schools have played nearly three times as many games as the Spartans to date. Several have been rained out or suspended.
“Our Pee Wees in Kimballton have played more than seven,” Petersen said. “As far as conference-wise, I told them, ‘You still have control of where you want to end up finishing.”’
CR-Bayard (12-4, 5-2)......................000 002 1—3 2 3
Exira-EHK (5-2, 4-2).........................000 000 1—1 3 2
W: Michael Dentlinger (2-0). L: Brady Hansen (1-1).
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