SLATER - The Ballard baseball team never found a way to slow down Boone in the Class 3A substate game between the two Raccoon River Conference rivals July 24 at Nite Hawk Field.


The Bombers were hurt by a rough second inning, and they gave up a run in each of the other first five innings to see a dream run come to a close with a 10-3 loss to the Toreadors.


The score was knotted at 1-1 after the first inning. Then Boone got hot, erupting for five runs in the second to take control.


The Toreadors added one run in each of the next four frames to build a 10-1 lead. Ballard refused to wilt, scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth and adding another in the seventh.


But the Bombers simply had too much ground to make up, finishing a breakout season with a 25-9 record.


“The biggest thing we talked about was how the boys changed the culture and level of expectation for the program,” Ballard head coach Nick Steenhagen said. “They set the bar high for the coming years and should not hang their heads that it is over.”


Ballard not only finished with a fantastic overall record — the Bombers won their first RRC title since 2007 and also claimed a district title.


“This year was about proving it,” Steenhagen said. “We accomplished a lot, from our conference and district championship to the amount of kids getting postseason recognition to the records that were broken this year. Ballard baseball is headed in the right direction. The goal was to win last night, but we should be proud of what we did.”


Boone simply got too hot at the plate for Ballard to keep up in the substate game. The Toreadors had 17 hits.


Jack Luster gave up six runs on seven hits and struck out two with no walks in two innings as the losing pitcher. Cody Wolfe surrendered four runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts and one walk in 3 ⅓ innings and Connor Finch retired one batter on strikes in 1 ⅔ scoreless and hitless innings of work.


Ballard totaled six hits on offense.


Luster ended his career by belting one more solo home run, Sam Petersen was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Kade Reinertson doubled and walked to pace Ballard offensively. Wolfe singled and walked, Nic Edwards singled and stole a base, Brooks Fleischmann walked and scored and Reese Broer crossed the plate once.


Boone improved to 20-12 heading into the state tournament. Brett Price struck out nine batters and walked three, going all seven innings as the winning pitcher, and he also went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and two RBIs on offense.


Boone 10, Ballard 3


Boone 151 111 0 - 10 17 0


Ballard 100 001 1 - 3 6 0


Boone: Brett Price and Dylan Bangs.


Ballard: Jack Luster, Cody Wolfe (3), Connor Finch (6) and Kade Reinertson.


WP: Price.


LP: Luster.


2B: Boone - Price, Morgan Smith, Brandon Rouse, Matthew Mills. Ballard - Reinertson.


HR: Boone - Jake Lewis. Ballard - Luster.