DES MOINES - Austin Vaske doesn't need to look far for inspiration.
One quick glance at his colorful black and gold stirrups tells the whole story.
Vaske's dad, Keith, wore the same pair of stirrups when he helped tradition-rich Bancroft St. John's to consecutive state crowns in 1985 and 1986.
Now, Vaske and fourth-ranked Bishop Garrigan are just two victories away from bringing home a first state championship trophy of their own on the diamond.
Seemingly unfazed by the sweltering 100-plus degree temperatures, the ace senior right-hander fired a complete game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts, lifting the top-seeded Golden Bears (37-8 overall) to a 3-1 Class 1A quarterfinal triumph over No. 8 seed North Tama Monday afternoon at Principal Park.
"I look up to my dad, so I decided to bring them back," Vaske said pointing to his old-fashioned stirrups. "My dad is my role model in and out of sports. He helped me a lot when I was little playing catch in the backyard. It's pretty special to wear them."
BISHOP GARRIGAN 3, NORTH TAMA 1
North Tama 000 000 1-1 3 3
Bishop Garrigan 001 002 x-3 5 1
Jacob Wrage (L, 6-3; 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and Justin Jacobs; Austin Vaske (W, 11-1; 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K) and Alex Boisjolie.
2B-NT: Brandon Kaufman. MH-BG: John Burns (2). SAC-NT: Brent Billerbeck; BG: Andrew McGuire (2). SB-BG: Burns. LOB-NT: 5; BG: 6.
Topping out around 88 mph on the radar gun, Vaske (11-1) sent down the Redhawks (21-13) in order in three of the seven innings, while striking out the side in the first and fourth frames. The Iowa Central recruit was actually just one out short of firing a shutout, before allowing a RBI single up the middle to No. 8 hitter Huston Danker. Fittingly, Vaske then notched a strikeout looking to seal the deal.
"It wasn't too exhausting out (on the mound)," said Vaske, who has now whiffed 116 in 83 1/3 innings on the year. "I was able to fight through the heat and make some good pitches. It feels great to be able to come back and play again."
Awaiting the North Central Conference champion Golden Bears in Thursday's 1A semifinals at 6 p.m. is No. 4 seed and two-time defending state champion Martensdale St. Mary's (38-5). The third-ranked Blue Devils prevailed over Treynor in yesterday's other quarterfinal by an 8-2 count.
"It feels great to get back down (to Des Moines) again (the Golden Bears settled for 2A runner-up honors in their only previous state trip in 1999) and get a win after being close (to qualifying for state) the last six or seven years," BGHS co-head coach Rob Meister said. "We're still not satisfied, though. We have to win Thursday to get to Saturday."
Despite being kept at bay for much of the contest by North Tama crafty junior southpaw Jacob Wrage (6-3), Garrigan broke through when senior left fielder Grant Reding crossed the dish on a pivotal two-out fielding miscue by the Redhawks' third baseman in the bottom of the third. Junior Jake Kollasch, a No. 7 hitter and second baseman, eventually delivered a clutch two-run single - on an 0-2 pitch - to left field against a drawn-in infield in the sixth.
"Once I got down 0-2, I was just hoping to put (the ball) in play," said Kollasch, who came in batting .202 on the season. "Luckily, (Wrage) threw me a fastball right over the plate. I knew those two extra runs would give us a nice cushion."
Junior John Burns highlighted the Golden Bear offensive charge with two hits, a run scored and a stolen base.
Garrigan, which has reeled off 23 victories in its past 25 games, has now outscored its opponents this postseason, 37-3.
North Tama's loss was just their third in the final 16 games after a rocky 8-10 start. The Redhawks were making their sixth state appearance in school history and first since going back-to-back in 2002 and 2003.