There's no disputing that our guys rolled through their regular season schedule - rolled. Their 17-1 record, which included a dominant streak during which they were 'mercy-ruling' nearly each opponent they faced, was mostly fashioned on offensive firepower that routinely hung crooked numbers on the scoreboard throughout the game. Couple this with their being the two-time defending state champions, and in the larger context of the quasi-dynasty that the baseball program has built since the mid-1990's, and it's fairly easy to understand that on the diamond, our guys can be an intimidating presence.
To this point in the playoffs, the winning hasn't changed. What seems to have changed - at least to a certain extent - is the manner by which they're winning. Obviously, once any team in any sport at any level reaches the postseason, the competition is tougher and only becomes more so as a team advances. To expect our guys to simply and routinely bludgeon teams to death with relative ease, then, might be unrealistic. Given the fact that the first two playoff games have been, all things considered, relative nail-biters - especially the first one against Middletown, a game that the Hawks easily could have lost - most Hawks' fans are no doubt waiting for the offensive sleeping giant to awaken and to provide at least a bit more breathing room in the tournament games to come.
All that said, any baseball team with legitimate designs on a championship must be able to win in different ways, most notably with the bat and on the mound. Fortunately for the Hawks, their pitchers have come up large in games when their team needed precision on the hill while waiting for the sluggers in the cavalry. Yesterday, a one-hit shutout over Lincoln - a team that came into Pepin Field having won nine consecutive games - was just what the doctor ordered.
The entire game was broadcast right here on The Network, with Stone Freeman, Cam Brennan, Zach Johnson, and Dylan "DT" Barron doing a top-shelf job of play-by-play and analysis. Fans can still watch the entire contest right here.
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
As a matter of fact, Network cameras provided a behind-the-scenes look into our in-game operations while DT Barron was behind the mic:
Offensively, there once again wasn't anything that jumped off the page, though Ryan Rotondo collected two hits (including a first-inning triple that led to an early run), as did Gian Martellini, one of which can be seen here:
The Hawks now await their next opponent, a team that will emerge from the losers' bracket. That game will be played at 4pm Wednesday at Pepin Field.
And The Network will be there with all the coverage.