(Harlan) -- For the third time in four years, Winterset was in the path of Harlan's tournament trail and for the the third time in four years, Harlan eliminated Winterset and kept their postseason alive with a 5-2 victory over the Huskies in a Class 3A District Final heard on KMA-FM.
"I was very pleased." Harlan head coach Steve Daeges told KMA Sports, "Both teams I thought played really well."
Harlan's victory was guided by the arm and bat of junior Connor Bruck. Bruck threw seven innings, struck out three, walked four batters and allowed just four hits.
"My curveball wasn't really working tonight, so I just stuck with my fastball." Bruck said, "Coach is always telling me to pitch to contact and good things will happen and that's what happened tonight."
Bruck also shined out the plate, tallying a go-ahead RBI-double in the fifth inning that eventually proved to be the game-winning run.
"I just seen a fastball and I cranked it a little bit." Bruck said.
Bruck's performance on the mound was not the game's only stellar pitching performance. Winterset's Casey Young threw five innings, struck out 10 batters, allowed just three hits and walked three in the defeat.
Harlan scored the first run of the contest in the second inning, Winterset responded with a run in the third to tie it at 1. The game remained tied until Bruck's fifth-inning RBI gave the Cyclones a 2-1 lead. Harlan added two insurance runs in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead before Winterset trimmed the margin to 4-2. Harlan tacked on another insurance run in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead into the game's final frame.
Bruck allowed a hit and a walk in the seventh with two outs to send Young to the plate with a chance to tie it. Bruck forced Young to chase a 2-2 pitch, striking him out and securing the victory.
"I just rose it up on him and I guess he wanted to chase." Bruck said.
Bruck's offensive performance was complemented by two hits and an RBI from Joey Moser, Isaiah Ahrenholtz also tallied a hit and drove in a run.
Winterset's offensive was paced by two hits and an RBI from Easton Darling. The Huskies see their season come to a close with a record of 22-8.
Harlan improves to 26-7 and will now turn their attention to a substate final against ADM on Wednesday in Harlan.
"They handled Glenwood fairly easily the first round." Coach Daeges said, "I know we're going to get their best shot, They have (Logan) Crannell, the lefty that's very good. We are expecting a very tough battle."
Complete video interviews with Bruck and Coach Daeges can be viewed below.