DES MOINES — When Pleasant Valley put the ball in play Wednesday night, good things happened.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, Brody Brecht made sure that didn't happen often enough.
The Ankeny standout and Iowa football commit struck out 16 as the Hawks won 5-4 in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Principal Park.
"Is that all we had?" PV head coach Derek Stecklein said of the strikeout count. "I was told he was hitting 98 and we weren't expecting 98. It's a tip of the hat to him. He went out and competed and even when we had some situations ... he was able to compete."
After throwing 111 pitches in the game Brecht won't be able to pitch the rest of the tournament, but it's a good start for the Hawks (20-8).
"It's a great way to end the year," Brecht said, "but we're not done yet."
PV (13-12) mustered just four hits against Brecht, but took advantage of some sloppy Ankeny play to rally from a 4-0 deficit.
After cutting the lead to 4-2 on a two-run double from Alex Clemons in the fourth inning, the Spartans tied the game in the fifth.
The inning started with another Brecht strikeout, and the Ankeny pitcher followed that with another strikeout to Carson Albrecht. The strikeout pitch got away from catcher Mo Watson, allowing Albrecht to reach first base. Albrecht then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
After Brecht struck out Drew Micek, Jack Young hit a ball on the ground to third basemen Lucas Juhl, who bobbled the ball, allowing Young to reach, and scoring Albrecht to cut the lead to 4-3.
A wild pitch on the first pitch to Barrett Lindmark scored Young to tie the game.
Lindmark hit a double and took third on the third Ankeny error of the inning, but Brecht struck out Seth Clausen to strand the go-ahead run at third base, capping a four-strikeout inning.
"It was super fun, it's always fun competing with a great pitcher," said Clausen, a Minnesota baseball commit who finished with seven strikeouts in six innings. "Props to him, he commanded the zone the whole game, kept our hitters off balance. Definitely the best pitcher I've ever seen. Our guys definitely did well for how good of a pitcher he is, hung in there, adjusted all game to put together quality at-bats."
Ankeny took the lead right back in the bottom of the frame.
After starting the inning with a strikeout, Clausen hit Brecht, then walked Smith, setting the table for Weston Fulk, who ripped a single into left field to give Ankeny a 5-4 lead, Smith getting cut down at the plate to keep the damage to just the one run.
But the one run was enough as Young flew out to right field to end the game after Drew Micek hit a two-out single in the seventh inning.
PV got in trouble early when Cael Boyd led off the first inning with an infield single. Boyd advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw by Clausen to give the Hawks a threat with no outs.
Clausen got the next batter to fly out to shallow left, then induced a 1-2-5-1 fielder's choice to negate the lead runner and leave Ankeny with a runner at second and two outs.
However, Brecht came through with a single into shallow left field, and the throw home was dropped by the catcher to put Ankeny up 1-0.
Despite Brecht making it to third on the play, Clausen worked out of the inning without further damage.
After a scoreless second, Clausen worked his way into trouble in the third inning with three straight walks to load the bases for Brecht.
Clausen responded by striking out Brecht looking on three pitches, but Carter Smith unloaded the bases by ripping a 1-2 pitch into right field for a three-run triple to put Ankeny up 4-0.
Clausen struck out the next two batters to strand Smith at third base.
"Honestly, I just got a little bit in my head," Clausen said. "Heart rate going too fast, not relaxing on the mound. Once I got dialed back in, everything was fine."
It's another good experience for PV, which advanced to state for the second straight year, the first time the program has accomplished that feat. The Spartans return a good nucleus, losing just two seniors out of the starting lineup, and feel this loss is just another chance to grow.
"It's just going to give us momentum for next season," Clemons said. "We're going to make it here next year and we're going to do better next year."