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DES MOINES– For two innings, Solon was behind.
Harlan scored in the opening frame of the Class 3A championship game Friday, pushing a run across on a pair of two-out hits against Solon starter Brandon Shulista.
The Cyclones would score no more.
And would only get two more hits.
The Solon Spartans broke it open in the third inning on the second run through the order, scoring four runs and running away with the 3A championship with a 6-1 win. Shulista went the distance for the win.
Solon outscored its three State Baseball Tournament opponents– Waukon, Marion and Harlan– by a total of 28-3.
It was the second consecutive title for the Spartans, having captured the 2A championship in 2010 over Kuemper Catholic; and the fourth straight appearance in the tournament– Solon bowed out in the 2009 semifinal to eventual champion St. Edmond of Ft. Dodge, and in the 2008 semifinal to Washington Cherokee.
The bottom of the seventh inning was fitting– Shulista on the mound, striking out the side– and senior Tyler Smith, the designated hitter, leading the charge out of the dugout as the rest of the Spartans swarmed their senior pitcher in a dog pile behind the mound.
Shulista (10-0) completed all seven innings for the Spartans. He allowed one run on four hits, walked one batter, and struck out nine (three in the final frame).
Cyclones starting pitcher Alex Brown held Solon scoreless and hitless for the first two innings, but Austin Dall walked to lead off the third and Travis Brimeyer reached on an error. That brought up the top of the order in the person of Marshall Koehn, who legged out a triple, scoring Dall and forcing in Brimeyer, who had initially pulled up at third.
An infield single by Derrick Loveless brought in Koehn, and a single by Shulista brought home Loveless.
The Spartans tacked on insurance runs in the fourth and seventh innings.
Koehn recorded another RBI-knock in the fourth when he drove in Dall who had reached on a leadoff double. Koehn finished 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored and three RBI. Shulista added his second RBI of the game on a seventh-inning single.
But Shulista never allowed a Cyclone runner past third base after his first inning, and retired the last six batters in order.
Solon scored six runs on six hits, collected five walks and stole two bases from Harlan.
It was an easier time for the Spartans in their first two games– a quarterfinal against Waukon Tuesday and a rematch with the Marion Indians in the semifinal Friday.
Solon scored almost at will against Waukon, putting across runs in all five innings of the 11-0 win.
Meanwhile, starter Brandon Shulista scattered two hits while striking out seven in four innings of work. Jordon Siddell came on for the final scoreless inning of relief.
A bloop single by Shawn Olson in the top of the first inning brought in Loveless for the first score after Loveless had singled with one out and moved to second when Tyler Smith was hit by a pitch.
Ryan Butler doubled to lead off the second for Solon, and he scored on an Austin Dall single.
A barrage of scoring came in the third inning when Koehn and Nick Day picked up two-out walks with the bases loaded, bringing Loveless to the plate.
His triple cleared the bases and extended Solon’s lead to 7-0. Loveless finished the game 3-for-4, reaching base in all four plate appearances. He scored twice and had three RBI.
Olson and Dall went 2-3 for Solon, which connected for nine hits and patiently accepted six walks.
The Spartans scored three more runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to seal the deal and advance to the semifinal with Marion.
It was more of the same Friday against the Indians.
Held scoreless in the first, Solon put up eight runs in the next three innings and kept Marion off the board until the sixth in a decisive 11-2 victory.
Everyone in the line-up had at least one hit for Solon– six Spartans had multiple hits– led by Austin Dall, who was 4-5 with a double and three RBI. The aggressive Spartans had 17 hits for the game, to go with three stolen bases and five walks.
Ryan Butler picked up the win on the mound, pitching just over five innings before being relieved by Nick Day. Butler gave up two runs (both unearned) on five hits while striking out five. Siddell pitched a scoreless seventh inning to close out the game.
Solon loaded the bases in the top of the third against Marion pitcher Levi Lochner. Shuilsta and Austin Dall singled, with a sacrifice by Butler in between, to give Solon a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, four straight Spartans singled with two outs, chasing Lochner from the game with the bases loaded. Butler added another single and Austin Dall doubled before the inning came to an end with Solon up, 8-0
Solon scored three more runs off three different Marion pitchers in the seventh inning, with RBI base hits by Loveless and Smith.