MOUNT VERNON — Jake Brinkman has done a little bit of everything for Iowa City Regina’s baseball team.
He used his arm and bat to help the Regals to a successful postseason start.
Brinkman belted a three-run home run in the first inning and pitched four innings of one-run ball as Regina beat Mid-Prairie, 16-6, in five innings in the first round of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A District 11 tournament Saturday at Cornell College’s Ash Park.
Brinkman, an all-state selection last season, said the pitching performance was more important, especially in district competition.
“Mid-Prairie is a good team,” Brinkman said. “They hit the ball; have good coaches and a good pitcher. That was a good win for us.”
The Regals faced an early deficit when Brinkman surrendered his only run in the top of the first. Jackson Yoder recorded a one-out single and then scored on a fielding error. The game quickly shifted back in favor of the Regals quickly.
Payton Raso led off with a single and Riley Dixon reached on an error, bringing Brinkman to the plate. He smoked a full-count pitch, lining it over the left field fence. The blast put Regina up, 3-1, and allowed Brinkman to relax.
“After the home run, I think all my nerves went down,” Brinkman said. “I went out there to have fun and pitch.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and help my team win.”
The Regals offense exploded, sending 10 batters to the plate in both the third and fourth innings building a 14-1 lead. Regina broke the game wide open in the six-run third, receiving consecutive doubles from Luke Gallagher, Zach Galindo and Jake Gahan. Gallagher’s was a two-run shot to left-center field, making it 5-1.
The Regals fed off each other at the plate, supporting an adage that hitting is contagious.
“They see the guy in front of them did their job and they want to do theirs,” Regina Coach Andy Gahan said. “They want to move them over, get an RBI and keep the wheels turning.”
Mid-Prairie (9-21) battled back in the fifth, scoring five runs on four walks and a Wyatt Cady triple. Cady led the Hawks with two hits.
Regina closed it in the bottom of the fifth with two runs, including three straight singles by Cale Lehman, Gallagher and Galindo to open the inning. Gallagher and Galindo each had three hits and two RBIs. Gallagher scored three times.
“We responded well and did it the entire game,” Gahan said. “Every time they did something our guys responded and that is the important part.”
Regina (23-16) advances to face 10th-ranked Alburnett (30-1) at Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Ash Park.
“We know they are a dang good team,” Gahan said. “Any time you can go through the rigors of a season and have one loss you know the team is pretty special.”
The Regals have added motivation for this season. They were a run away from possibly reaching the state tournament. Gahan is stepping down after the season to become an elementary school principal in Coralville, ending a 16-year coaching tenure at his alma mater.
“We want to get there (state) for him,” Brinkman said. “We have to come and play our hearts out and play like we did here.”
West Branch and West Liberty were postponed after only one inning due to rain. The game will be played Monday at 7 p.m.
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