Less than 72 hours after that disappointing defeat,

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Less than 72 hours after that disappointing defeat, the Falcons had to prepare to take on the surprising Waterloo Vikings in the Portage County League championship game on Thursday.

"I've never seen the kids as down as they were on Tuesday," said Field coach Larry Wiles.

But thanks to the powerful arm of Jason McBroom, the Falcons avoided any further hangover by defeating the host Vikings 9-0 to earn the PCL title.

McBroom struck out 15, walked three and surrendered four hits in going the distance. He finished the year with a perfect 8-0 record and a barely noticeable earned-run average of 0.30.

Wiles remarked after the game that as important as the state tournament is, the league title game takes precedence.

"We were disappointed of course on Monday. Our kid (Drew Nekola) pitched such a great ballgame and we lost," said Wiles, referring to Nekola's two-hitter. "But this was our primary goal at the start of the season _ to win the PCL. All the rest is icing on the cake, so we really feel this was a major accomplishment today."

McBroom got out of some potential trouble in the first inning by picking off Greg Slattery at first base, then wiggled his way out of a two-on, no-out situation in the fifth by striking out the side. Eight of McBroom's final nine outs came by way of strikeout.

"It was great," said the senior lefty. "We got down after that game (on Monday). We thought we could go really far in the tournament. For us to come back like this is really good. We all played well. Everybody came through when they needed to."

Todd Reschke was the first to come through in the clutch when he singled in the game's first two runs in the fourth inning. To that point, Waterloo's Bo Cooksey had not allowed a hit.

Field (20-3) put the game out of reach the following inning when catcher Chris Meranto delivered a bases-loaded double that hit off the glove of diving Waterloo right fielder Jason Crider. Reschke and Meranto's hits came with two outs.

The Falcons added two runs in the sixth and Reschke capped the day with a seventh-inning home run.

"It was a great season," said Wiles. "This was really a great team and they had a great year. They played hard and earned everything they got."

Waterloo coach Doug Mori was just happy that he and his team had the opportunity to be in the opposite dugout. Two years ago the Vikings won the PCL, but last year struggled and finished at the bottom of the league with a 6-22 mark. Ending this season at 13-10, Mori's squad nearly came full circle from 1998 before falling short against a premier pitcher.

"As I told our kids, I was darn proud of our effort just to get here," said Mori. "There were a lot of good teams in the (PCL National Division). I was happy to have the opportunity to play somebody of this caliber.

"We didn't hit in crucial times, but we played loose and we played proud. It was a valiant effort. We worked hard to get here. We went from worst to a shot at first."

Cooksey, who was relieved by Josh Griffin and Crider, took the loss. He gave up six runs on five hits and struck out eight.

_____

PCL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Field 9, Waterloo 0

(At Waterloo)

FIELD 000 242 1 _ 9 7 0

WATERLOO 000 000 0 _ 0 4 4

McBroom & Meranto. Cooksey, Griffin (6), Crider (7) & Conley.

WP _ McBroom (8-0). LP _ Cooksey (6-4).

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