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Marion falls to No.1 Solon in semifinals

DES MOINES - No excuses, no apologies, no serious regrets.

The Marion Indians made it all the way to the semifinals of the Class 3A state baseball tournament this season before running into one of the best clubs in Iowa.

The top-ranked Solon Spartans collected 17 hits and squashed the Indians, 11-2, Friday afternoon to end Marion's season on an overcast day at Principal Park in Des Moines.

Solon (38-4) won the Class 2A state title last year and will be aiming for the 3A crown Saturday night with a lineup filled with college-bound athletes.

The Marion Indians (27-17) fell short, but they went further in the state tournament than any team in school history and posted the only win at the state tourney in MHS annals.

It didn't look good for Marion in May when two of their top pitchers decided not to play baseball this year and another got hurt, but the Indians rallied and had a strong season.

"It's kind of a storybook year, really. Quite incredible," said Coach Steve Fish. "It's been a fantastic year."

Solon scored one run in the second inning off Marion sophomore Levi Lochner, added three runs in the third and broke it open with four unearned runs in the fourth for an 8-0 lead.

"They're a good ballclub, but we're really disappointed in the way we played," senior Kasey Semler remarked. "You have to give a lot of credit to them. They hit the heck out of the ball and we made a few mistakes."

Marion rallied and scored two runs in the sixth inning on a two-run single by Andrew Charipar to pull within 8-2, and for a brief moment it looked like the Indians might get back in the game. They had the bases loaded with two outs when an inside pitch appeared to hit Josh Davila in the arm, but the home-plate umpire ruled it a foul ball.

If Davila had gotten the call, it would have been 8-3 with Semler (a .400 hitter) coming to the plate. Instead, Davila eventually struck out and the inning was over.

"Davila's got a bruise on his arm, but that's baseball," Fish said. "I'm not going to throw darts at the umpire, but that's a call you'd like to have."

The Spartans responded with three runs in the top of the seventh to put an exclamation point on their victory.

The Indians accepted a handsome award for reaching the semifinals of the state tournament and prepared to head back to Marion, disappointed but not disconsolate.

"I couldn't be more proud of a group of people," said Semler, who will play basketball at Kirkwood Community College. "We had a lot of doubters and proved them wrong. We didn't want to settle for this, but we're happy."

Fish collected his 500th career victory this season and the Indians tied for the Wamac Conference West Division title, despite having to rely on a young pitching staff that surpassed expectations.

Marion won four straight playoff games before running into Solon. "That was amazing, all the way through," senior Dusty Albaugh remarked.

Solon has one of the top baseball teams in the state, regardless of classification. The Spartans had at least seven college-bound athletes on the field with shortstop Nick Day (Iowa baseball), center fielder Derrick Loveless (Iowa baseball), second baseman Marshall Koehn (Iowa football), designated hitter Tyler Smith (Iowa Western football), catcher Shawn Olson (Iowa Central baseball), first baseman Brandon Shulista (Iowa Central baseball) and pitcher Ryan Butler (Kirkwood baseball).

"Yeah, we're blessed," said Solon Coach Keith McSweeney. "This class is very athletic. There's no question."

Marion has good athletes too, but only Semler (Kirkwood basketball) and shortstop Zach Nielsen (Centennial College baseball) are college-bound athletes in the senior class.

Butler pitched 5 1/3 innings to get the victory for Solon. Lochner lasted 3 2/3 innings for Marion before yielding to Tyler Hedtke, who pitched a two-hit shutout against Storm Lake on Tuesday in the opening round of the state tournament and returned on two days rest.

Austin Dall went 4-for-5 for Solon with three RBIs. Mitch Wagner collected three of Marion's six hits.

Solon swept a Wamac Conference doubleheader from Marion this season and finished with a 3-0 record against the Indians.

"They're good. We knew that coming in," Albaugh said. "We honestly believed we could compete with them. We can, but we just didn't play our game. We didn't hit the ball as well."

The Indians went home with a pocketful of memories.

"We played in one of the best ballparks in Iowa. It's a fun place to play," said Nielsen. "You can't get any better than this."

SOLON (11)
Koehn, 2b/ss, 5 1 2 0, Day, ss/p, 4 1 1 0, Loveless, cf, 4 2 2 1, Smith, dh, 5 2 2 1, Stebral, 3b, 0 0 0 0, Olson, c, 2 0 1 1, Holub, cr, 0 3 0 0, Shulista, 1b/2b, 3 1 2 2, Lance, pr, 0 0 0 0, Siddell, p, 0 0 0 0, Butler, p/1b, 4 0 2 2, C. Dall, pr, 0 0 0 0, A. Dall, rf, 5 0 4 3, Brimeyer, lf, 3 1 1 0. Totals 35 11 17 10.

Semler, 2b, 4 0 0 0, Wagner, 3b, 4 1 3 0, Nielsen, ss, 4 1 1 0, Albaugh, rf, 3 0 0 0, Biery, 1b, 2 0 0 0, Johnson, c, 3 0 0 0, An. Charipar, cf, 2 0 1 2, Fish, dh, 3 0 0 0, Lochner, p, 0 0 0 0, Hedtke, p, 0 0 0 0, Stekl, p, 0 0 0 0, Connelly, p, 0 0 0 0, Davila, lf, 3 0 1 0. Totals 28 2 6 2.

Solon    013 400 3 - 11 17 2
Marion   000 002 0 -  2  6  2

Butler, Day (6), Siddell (7) and Olson. Lochner, Hedtke (4), Stekl (7), Connelly (7) and Johnson. W - Butler (8-1). L - Lochner (6-1). 2B - A.Dall. SB - Koehn, Day, Loveless, Wagner 2.

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 July 2011 16:40 )  

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