Henry powers PBR past Salem
Despite Solberg gem, Dells title hopes dashed by Raptors
August 20. 2013 2:35PM
During his 18-year career with the Dell Rapids Mudcats, Nate Henry and his club-record 208 career home runs put a halt to many teams’ state championship bids.
Last Monday, Henry struck again, but with his new squad as his three-run home run proved to be the difference in Dell Rapids PBR’s 4-1 win over Salem in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Sioux Falls Stadium.
For PBR coach Jay Bentz, it was a welcomed feeling to be on the beneficial end of a Henry bomb, which earned Dell Rapids a berth in the quarterfinals.
“He’s just a great player,” Bentz said. “It’s funny how it goes when guys come to new teams, they feel like they have to show they can play. He doesn’t need to show us anything.”
What made the fifth-inning homer more enjoyable for Bentz was the fact that during the pitching change prior to Henry’s at-bat, the PBR manager advised his left-handed slugger to be patient, but also tossed out the idea of hitting one over the Firehouse Subs sign in right field. Henry obliged.
“He said it,” chuckled Henry, who was 3-for-4 on the night. “I was just trying to hit it hard somewhere and it worked out.”
While the former Northern State standout provided the spark at the plate, Dell Rapids starter Colin Karst kept Salem hitters off balance for the most part, scattering six hits over seven innings to pick up his second tourney win in as many games.
The lone blemish for Karst (5-1) came following a leadoff single to Brian Duxbury in the second inning that ultimately resulted in a two-out RBI single off the bat of Steve Mehlbrech to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
However, PBR answered with a Weston Hansen RBI single in the bottom half of the inning and Karst limited the Salem damage the rest of the way.
“He threw well. We were a lot of first-strike swinging,” said Salem manager Roger Duxbury. “He kept the curveball outside – a lot of spin to it – and guys were going after it. Can’t lay off of it.”
Henry has been also impressed with Karst’s performances thus far.
“For somebody who’s that young to have that much poise is remarkable,” Henry said. “He’s started two games in the state tournament and he’s just doing a great job.”
And while PBR struggled to find consistency at the plate throughout the season, the group has seemingly come around at the right time.
Nate Alfson added a 2-for-4 night that included a double as Dell Rapids tallied eight hits in the victory.
“We’re coming together pretty well. As hitters, we’re doing a good job of being patient, finding good pitches to hit, hitting behind runners and getting a hit when we need it,” said Henry. “It’d be great if we could keep peaking at this time.”
The win advanced PBR to the quarterfinals, where they faced the Raptors of Dimock/Emery.
The Thursday night matchup in Sioux Falls was a nailbiter the whole way through, but in the end, PBR fell to the Raptors 2-1 in 12 innings.
Starting pitcher Dale Solberg kept Dell Rapids close all game, giving up just three hits and one run in 9 1⁄3 innings of work.
A bomb by Henry, who went 2-for-5, in the ninth inning forced extra innings. But Jason Schmidt hit a walk-off double in the 12th inning scoring Sam Pischke to advance the Raptors.