Aaron Savary has been awfully dominant throughout his junior season at Dubuque Wahlert.
On Friday night, he became perfect.
The lanky right-handed pitcher retired all 18 batters he faced in the first perfect game of his career, at any level, to lead the Golden Eagles to a 10-0, six-inning victory over Vinton-Shellsburg in an Iowa Class 3A Substate 3 opener at Petrakis Park. Wahlert (27-7) advanced to play Monday at Petrakis in the semifinals against Maquoketa (19-13), which upset Decorah, 10-3.
“I felt like my stuff was working pretty well, but credit to Vinton-Shellsburg, because they were putting the ball in play quite a bit,” Savary said after improving to 7-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.35. “I was able to work around that and the guys played great defense behind me, which kept them off base all night.
“In the moment, it doesn’t feel that much different. You don’t want to get too amped up and then fall apart. But, when it gets toward the end, you do start to think, ‘I have to finish this off here.’ The crowd’s a little bigger because it’s a tournament game, but I tried to approach it like a normal game.”
Savary struck out seven and recorded eight ground-ball outs and three fly-ball outs. This season, he has fanned 70 batters in 52 innings of work.
Vinton-Shellsburg (2-31) hung in it for the first three innings, with starter Travis Hantz limiting the Eagles to just one hit.
Wahlert staged the first real threat in the bottom of the second. No. 9 hitter Ryan Brosius laced a one-out double to left field and moved up 90 feet when his older brother, Jake, hit a towering fly ball to right. But the Vikings got out of the jam when Jared Walter flied out to left to end the frame.
“They put up three zeroes right away, and you could tell it gave them a little confidence,” Wahlert coach Kory Tuescher said. “(Hantz) threw it around the plate, and we were probably a little overly aggressive, swinging at his pitches instead of waiting for our pitch early in the count. Credit to him.
“Eventually, we put the ball in play. They helped us a little bit by kicking it around, and we were able to run a little on them to get things going.”
An inning later, the Eagles broke through against Hantz. Aaron Savary and Jack Walsh opened the frame with solid singles, and Landon Stoll walked to load the bases.
Ben Freed walked to drive in the first run, and Garrett Kadolph and Derek Tauber followed with hit batsmen to make it 3-0. After Ryan Brosius popped up to shallow left for the first out, Jake Brosius hit another towering fly ball to center that resulted in a two-run sacrifice fly.
The Eagles batted around in the inning and scored the five runs on just two hits, two walks and two hit batsmen.
“We didn’t have the greatest at-bats the first time through the lineup, but we knew we were going to figure it out, and we did,” Stoll said. “We started having a little better approaches, had much better at-bats and strung some hits together. We got a lot more patient, especially in the first pitch of the at-bat.”
An inning later, Walsh drew another hit batsman and his courtesy runner, Sam Besler, made it to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Stoll’s infield single plated Wahlert’s sixth run.
In the sixth, Ryan Brosius led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Jake Brosius’ sharp single to right. Savary followed with a hustle double inside the left-field line to drive in another run, and Stoll singled to left to make it 9-0. Freed followed with another base hit, and the winning run scored when the ball scooted past the left-fielder to the fence.