COUNCIL BLUFFS — During his bullpen session Thursday before the Class 1-A district semifinal against Fremont-Mills, a thought struck Brandon Williams.
“It kind of hit me that this was the last time I was going to do this at Chuck Wolever,” the Council Bluffs St. Albert senior said, referring to the Falcons’ home field.
Williams followed with the best pitching performance of his prep career. He fired a five- inning perfect game, striking out nine, to help the Falcons advance to the district finals with a 10-0 victory.
St. Albert (25-12) will face Stanton (13-7) Saturday at Wolever Field, with the winner advancing to Tuesday’s substate final in Harlan.
Williams made it easy on himself and teammates. He threw 53 pitches, never had a three-ball count and nothing was hit out of the infield.
“Always the key for me when I’m pitching is to get ahead first and get on top,” Williams said. “That way, I’m pitching to my at-bats and (benefiting) my pitch count.
“As a pitcher, your job is to get people out. I think today I did a good job of doing that.”
His coach agreed.
“He was on fire,” St. Albert coach Duncan Patterson said. “He’s been very competitive. I know he’s struggled a little bit with his bat this year, so a lot of his main focus has been pitching. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s been focused, a team leader.”
Williams’ teammates took away any doubt of the outcome by scoring in four of five innings. St. Albert plated two runs in both the second and third innings before breaking the game open with a five-run fourth. Garret Reisz provided the biggest hit of the frame with his three-run home run. He finished with two hits and scored three runs. Elijah Finn added two hits and three runs. Danny Koch, Cy Patterson, Lance Wright and Reed Miller each scored a run for St. Albert.
The Falcons are thrilled to be back in the district finals, where they saw their season end a year ago on their home field to eventual state qualifier Tri-Center. A victory over Stanton Saturday would put St. Albert in position to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2011.
“The last couple years, this is where we’ve been,” Duncan Patterson said. “Now we’ve just got to get over that hump. Hopefully, it’ll pay off.”
Fremont-Mills closes the season at 11-11. F-M starter Isaac Bateman posted a scoreless first inning, but the St. Albert offense quickly got going moving forward.
“We gave the old try to shoot at Goliath there, and Goliath won this time,” F-M coach Greg Ernster said. “Hats off to that kid pitching tonight. He did a great job.
“Our expectations are the same: win the conference and get as far in the postseason as we can. This is where we expected to be. We were hoping to have a little better seed, but it is what it is. I’m proud of the way our kids fought all season long.”
Fremont-Mills (11-11) ......... 000 00— 0 0 4
At CB St. Albert (25-12) ...... 022 51—10 7 0
W: Brandon Williams. L: Isaac Bateman. 2B: SA, Elijah Finn. HR: SA, Garret Reisz.
Stanton 3, Logan-Magnolia 0
Stanton is getting hot at the right time, and a big reason is the performance of its pitching staff.
After a 12-2 victory over Essex/South Page in Tuesday’s district opener, the Vikings came back with a 3-0 shutout of Logan-Magnolia in the semifinals at St. Albert.
Donnie Weis and Drake Johnson combined on the shutout, with Weis throwing the first five innings — striking out three — and Johnson earning the save, also fanning three.
“Donnie pitched tremendous tonight, and Drake Johnson came in and finished the game off for us,” Stanton co-coach Jason Hart said. “Tremendous pitching. We played very good defense and hit the ball well at the beginning of the game. I’m very, very pleased with how the game turned out.”
Weis worked quickly most of the night, stepping up especially well when Logan-Magnolia mounted scoring threats. Weis stranded Lo-Ma runners in scoring position in four of his five innings of work.
“I like to always have a good pace,” Weis said. “I don’t like to mess around between pitches. I like to get up and go, which benefits me most of the time.”
Weis helped his own cause in the first when he reached on a leadoff single, stole second and scored on a Brandon Peterson double to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
The advantage grew to 3-0 in the third when Drake Johnson and Dillon Rocha came through with run-scoring singles.
Hart is happy with the Vikings’ two postseason performances, a trend he hopes continues into Saturday’s district final.
“I think this is our fifth win in a row,” Hart said. “We feel like we’re hitting our stride right now. We’ve ripped off a bunch of wins here. We’re excited, and we want to keep this thing rolling.”
Logan-Magnolia (7-24) .... 000 000 0—0 3 3
Stanton (13-7) ................. 102 000 x—3 5 2
W: Donnie Weis. L: Dylan Cunard. S: Drake Johnson. 2B: LM, Joel Richardson. S, Brandon Peterson, Dillon Rocha.