BELLEVUE, Iowa — The game plan called to avoid Holly Kremer if at all possible.
When that wasn’t possible, Bellevue Marquette’s sophomore third baseman made it hurt.
Kremer shook off an intentional walk in her first at-bat to double in her next two plate appearances, including a critical two-run double as the Mohawks beat Wyoming Midland, 6-3, in their Iowa Class 1A regional first-round game Monday at Cole Park.
“I was kind of starting to get really mad and frustrated, because I just want to go up there and hit the ball as hard as I can,” Kremer said.
Midland had tied the game at 2 in the top of the fifth, and Kremer stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom half and the Mohawks leading, 3-2. Kremer blasted an 0-1 pitch to straightaway center field, just missing a grand slam as she settled for a two-run double.
“For her it’s just timing,” Marquette coach Melissa Sturm said. “If she waits on the ball, the power she has in that bat is unbelievable.”
Marquette (16-14) advanced to play at Don Bosco (20-13) in Wednesday’s regional quarterfinal, but will need to play better. The Mohawks committed three errors on Monday leading to three unearned runs.
“They knew before we even got out (to the postgame huddle), this isn’t going to be good enough,” Sturm said. “So, they’re going to have to come out on fire.”
Marquette’s Emma Callaghan led off the second with a double and scored on an error two batters later to give the Mohawks a 1-0 lead. Sunny North’s sacrifice fly in the fourth gave Marquette a 2-0 advantage.
But Midland caught up in the fifth.
North retired the first 11 batters she faced before allowing a one-out single in the fourth. Midland loaded the bases in the fifth on a pair of errors and a walk. Sophie Coates and Taylor Bahnsen delivered one-out RBI singles to even the score at 2.
“Sunny has really good command and has been in these situations for a couple years now. Enough to know what she has to do,” Sturm said. “She’s pretty clutch getting herself out of situations just because of the experience she has.”
But the game changed permanently in the bottom half.
Beatrice Kemp walked and Halle and Elise Kilburg beat out bunt singles to load the bases. Delaney Banowetz reached on an error to bring home the go-ahead run.
One batter later, Kremer gave the Mohawks important insurance. North bounced into a run-scoring fielder’s choice with two outs in the inning.
“It was very important (to answer right back), because when we get it tied we just sit back and relax and think we have it in the bag and we really don’t. We have to get our bats rolling,” Kremer said.
Grace Tath relieved North to open the sixth and struck out four of the eight batters she face. Coates reached on a two-out error and scored on Bahnsen’s double to account for the final run.
North struck out seven in five innings and allowed just three hits and a walk.
“That’s a huge asset that so many teams wish they had and just don’t,” Sturm said of having Tath ready in relief. “I think both of them know how to command the game and whatever role they’re put in they can come in and do exactly what we need them to do.”