Despite a last stitch effort in the top half of the seventh, Harlan was able to hold on to defeat Bishop Heelan Catholic 8-6 Tuesday afternoon in a Class 3A first-round game at Principal Park. Harlan took the lead from the start when Kyle Juhl sent a triple to deep right-center and Josh Cheek brought him in on a single to shallow center.
Brett Croghan was given the ball for Harlan and he tossed five strong innings of work for the home team. Croghan allowed two runs, both unearned, from six hits and four walks, while striking out two. He was helped all game long by brothers Dillon Sears and Brett Sears at short stop and third, respectively.
The Cyclones scored one more in the bottom of the third that began with Dillon Sears reaching on a walk and then advancing to second on a stolen base. Juhl moved Sears to third on a fly out to right and then Nick Tarney did his job by sending a deep sacrifice fly to left that allowed Sears to score.
Matthew Kerian was given the nod to start the game for Bishop Heelan where he tossed four innings for the away team. Kerian allowed four runs, all earned, from seven hits and two walks, while striking out two. He was replaced by Colin Kasperbauer for .2 innings of work.
Harlan scored another run in the fourth from two hits and an error to extend their lead to 3-0. The Crusaders responded in the top of the fifth with two runs to shorten the lead to one. Kasperbauer reached base on Jared Moser’s misplayed grounder to start off the inning. Jackson Boever reached on a walk and Matt Nelson moved the runners due to Dillon Sears’ misplayed grounder. Bishop Heelan put two across from two hits from Hunter Hope and Kerian, but left three on base for the second time in the game.
Harlan wasted no time in getting those runs back and put two across in the bottom half from one hit and three walks. They added three more in the bottom of the sixth from two hits by Dillon Sears, who tripled and Juhl who singled to shallow center for the second time.
Down to their last outs, Bishop Heelan started a last ditch one-out rally in attempt to tie the game up to give their team one last shot. Bailey McBride started the rally with a single to left-center. Hope followed him with a double down the left field line that allowed McBride to score. Kerian hit a single of his own and Tom Schiltz reached base on Juhl’s misplayed ball. Will Karrer doubled to left center to score two more and move their seventh inning run total to four. With only one out and only down two now, Harlan’s Cheek settled down and got two fly outs to close the door on Heelan’s comeback.
Harlan (28-5) moves to the semifinals of the Class 2A semifinals. Heelan ended at 27-16.