The Lancers 5-1 victory over Delano was Baseball 101 – take an early lead, pitch well and play sound defense.
For the third consecutive season, La Crescent advanced to the Class 2A semifinals, beating Delano on the strength of a three-run first inning, a rock-solid performance on the mound from junior lefthander Eric Veglahn and an outfield that refused to let fly ball drop.
“We played pretty good,” La Crescent coach Rick Boyer said, understating the obvious. “We didn’t get a lot of hits, but we captialized on the hits we did get.”
Sparked by junior igniter Troy Traxler, who led off by getting hit by the first pitch of the game, three of La Crescent’s first four batters came around to score, staking Veglahn to a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound.
“It’s really nice,” saids Veglahn. “But it can be more nerve-wracking because you don’t want to give it back.”
He needn’t have worried. He scattered eight Delano hits, but never allowed the Tigers to mount a serious rally. And when they did hit the ball hard, the LaCrescent defense found a way to turn it into a out.
“The defense really had my back,” Veglahn said. “That makes you feel a little better out there.”
Rightfielder Paul Johnson had two hits, an RBI and the defensive play of the game in the sixth inning, tracking down a ball on the warning track like a wide receiver running down a bomb.
“That might have been the best catch I’ve ever seen,” Veglahn said. “I thought it was out when it was hit.”
The victory sets up a semifinal game against Fergus Falls, the third straight time the two teams have faced each other in the tournament. La Crescent has won both previous meetings, including the 2009 championship game.