Gotto dominant as Dubuque County routs Omaha Burke Black
In the day two finale of the Central Plains Regional Tournament, Dubuque County Post 137 (Iowa) was the beneficiary of a pair of home runs and a pair of terrific defensive plays. Each aspect, however, took a supporting role to a sparkling performance from starting pitcher Dylan Gotto.
Gotto went the distance, relinquishing just one run on five hits and two walks during a 12-1 triumph over Omaha Burke Black (Neb.) on Thursday, August 9 from the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
Of the five hits allowed by the left hander, four were infield singles as the Bulldogs unable to get solid contact off of Gotto.
"I was able to locate all three of my pitches," Gotto said. "I was having some trouble trying to find my curveball in the early innings, but I know my defense can stop everything behind me."
The game remained scoreless until the top of the third when Post 137's Wil Courtney put a charge in a pitch from Burke Black starting pitcher Hunter Waugh. As he subtly flipped his bat while walking out of the batter's box, Courtney watched as the ball flew over the left field fence, just out of reach of outfielder's Josh Dickey leaping attempt.
Post 137 received more power in the bottom of the fourth from catcher Joel Vaske. With two runners on and two outs, the No. 9 batter drove a ball bouncing off of the top of the right field fence and over for a three-run home run.
"In my first at-bat, I swung at the first pitch on a curveball. The kid threw it well, I just missed squaring it up and getting all of it," Vaske said. "Then the second time through, he started me with two curveballs. They were low and I just missed the first one foul, I was pretty discouraged about that. But I after I drove two different curveballs, I figured he wasn't going to throw me another one, so I sat back, got an outer-third fastball and I just managed to get the barrel on it."
Sandwiched in between the top home runs was a defensive gem from Gotto that didn't require a glove.
Nolan Opheim started the bottom of the third with a comebacker to the mound. Gotto drove to is left, made a barehanded stab and threw Opheim out at first.
"Instinct kind of just took over," Gotto said. "Saw the ball to the left, kind of drove and I don't know if I could have gotten my glove on it or not, but my instincts kind of took over."
The Bulldogs best chance to make a dent on the scoreboard came in the bottom of the fourth after they loaded the bases with two outs. Burke Black shortstop Bobby Jackson smashed a grounder up the middle, but T.J. Deardorff ranged to his right, made a diving stop and flipped the ball to shortstop Sam Link for the forceout at second.
"[Dubuque County] played great, they were stellar on defense, hit the ball well. They're a true ambassador of an American Legion Tournament," Bulldogs head coach Scott Hodges said. "They are what you want out of an American Legion team."
Vaske struck again in the top of the of seventh with a three-run triple as part of a six-run seventh. He finished 2-for-4 with six runs batted in.
Burke Black will face Tri-City Red in an elimination game on Friday at 4:30 p.m., while Dubuque County and West Fargo, the North Dakota state champion, will lock horns later in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
"The biggest thing for us is our battle, these kids love to battle," Dubuque County head coach Rob Hoerner said. "They love to play this game, they have fun playing this game and they love to battle. ... It's a grind, no one is going to give this to us. And these guys know that."
Dubuque County (Iowa) Post 137 12, Omaha Burke Black (Neb.) 1
DC 001 320 6 — 12 15 0
OBB 000 001 0 — 1 5 2
DC: Dylan Gotto (7.0) and Joel Vaske. OBB: Hunter Waugh (5.0) Joe Yakopec (1.0) Ethan Klenda (1.0) and Nolan Opheim
W—Gotto. L—Waugh. HR—DC, Wil Courtney, Joel Vaske.
Highlights: DC: Gotto 7 IP 5 H, 2 BB, R, 2 K, W; Wil Courtney 3-5, HR, RBI 2 R; Vaske 2-4, HR, 3B, 6 RBI, 2 R; Gannon O'Brien 3-3, HBP, RBI, 2 R. OBB: Josh Dickey 2-3; Zach Munson 1-1, Sac Bunt, BB, RBI; Noah Olson 1-3, R.