Behind every good shutout is a quality performance on the mound.
Against city rival Wahlert, Hempstead coach Jeff Rapp deployed what he calls his “1-2 punch,” and as a result, the Mustangs’ season remains unblemished.
Starter Logan Runde pitched five innings with eight strikeouts and four hits allowed and reliever Riley Connolly worked out of a late-inning jam to earn the save as Hempstead defeated the Iowa Class 3A No. 10-ranked Golden Eagles, 4-0, Monday at Petrakis Park.
“That combination has been good for us early, with Runde and Connolly, just kind of a good 1-2 punch there,” said Rapp, whose team improved to 5-0. “Runde got us deep enough, we were hoping he’d get into the sixth and he did, and that’s exactly where we wanted to get him, to put Riley in a position to get the win.
“If we would’ve had 2-3 wins at this point, I’d have been happy, given the kind of teams we’ve played. I think the key for us is we’ve had every single person in the lineup contribute.”
The Mustangs (5-0) broke through in the top of the third when Peter Unmacht and Runde drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning and Zach Sabers hit a one-out single to left to load the bases. That brought up Devin Eudaley, who ripped a double to deep left center that cleared the bases and gave Hempstead its 3-0 lead.
From there, Runde seized control on the mound, striking out four of the next seven batters he faced and allowing just two hits through the first five innings.
But in the sixth, Runde gave the Eagles (4-2) their best chance of the game, surrendering a walk, a single to Thomas Specht and hitting Bennett Cutsforth to load the bases. That chased the Mustang starter from the game — ending Runde’s night — and brought in reliever Connolly with a no-out, bases loaded jam to work out of.
Connolly induced Will Hoffmann to ground into a fielder’s choice that forced Jared Weber out at home, popped out Garrett Kadolph and struck out Charles Jaeger to end the inning and preserve the shutout. The relief pitcher then gave himself one more run’s worth of cushion when he drove in Eudaley on a two-out, infield single in the top of the seventh, making it 4-0 Hempstead.
Runde and Connolly combined for 10 total strikeouts and five hits allowed. Connolly finished with two hits and an RBI while Unmacht drove in a game-high three RBIs to lead the Mustangs. Schmitz led Wahlert offensively with two hits in four at bats.
Both teams square off again tonight at Hempstead’s Core Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.