The West Burlington High School baseball team found its missing ingredient just in time to start the second half of the season.

So on Monday night, the Falcons put the fun back in the game.

And boy did the Falcons have fun. After a shaky start, West Burlington erupted for eight runs on six hits after the third inning, rolling to a 8-2 win over SEI Superconference South Division at Winegard Field.

It was just the medicine the Falcons needed after losing their last three games.

"We needed that after the last two games. That was a big win," West Burlington coach Pat McKasson said. "Their attitudes are changing for the best. We're doing a lot more team stuff. Before it was individuals. The seniors had a little talk with the players. This is their last hurrah. They wanted to step up. This is a good time for it, the second go-around."

"This was very huge. The first half of the season didn't go our way," Crooks said. "We just want to have fun. That's our main goal. Hit the ball. Notre Dame is our big rival. We just wanted to beat them. The first couple innings didn't go our way. We couldn't get runners in. But we found a way to get it done and get the 'W.' That's all that matters."

"The number of the game tonight was 18. That's the combination of 12 walks and six errors," Notre Dame coach Jeff Klein said. "When you spot any team 18 base runners, it doesn't matter if you're playing the state champ or the worst team in the state, you spot any team 18 base runners, you're going to lose every time. That's what we did tonight."

Notre Dame (7-9 overall, 3-5 South Division) chased across a run in the first inning against Crooks. Brady Oleson singled to lead off the inning, was sacrificed to second by Nick Skerik, went to third on a wild pitch, and trotted home on a single by Trenton Blythe.

West Burlington (6-7, 3-5) stranded nine runners in the first four innings, but knotted the game in the fourth. Masin Shullaw reached on an error to open the inning and later scored on a wild pitch.

The Falcons broke the game open, chasing seven runs across the plate in the final three innings. Gabe Zurita and Crooks each drove in a run in a three-run fifth inning, Shullaw and Taylor Martin knocked home runs in the sixth and Colten Hohenthaner tripled in Brice Mennen in the seventh before Dreyton LaVeine singled in Hohenthaner to close the scoring.

"We got tired of leaving guys on base. I think we left nine guys on in the first four innings," McKasson said. "Then all of a sudden we got people on and got a hit here in there. It was awesome. What a good win."

Crooks did the rest, scattering five hits while fanning eight in 6 2/3 innings. Zurita came on to get the last out.

"I felt good coming into the game. Just staying relaxed was my main goal," said Crooks, who struck out 12 in a relief appearance against Holy Trinity in his last outing. "I tried not to do too much. Make them hit ground balls and let our guys make plays in the field."

"The last two outings have been great," McKasson said. "He stepped up. That was the Daniel Crooks I'm used to seeing. Tonight he threw strikes. Our defense didn't let him down. We made some plays tonight."

West Burlington hosts Van Buren tonight, while Notre Dame hosts Iowa Mennonite today.

"We beat a good ball club," McKasson said. "I'm looking for them to go a long ways in the postseason. They're a good team."

"We say get back to basics, but at some point basics have to be part of your everyday routine. Right now it's not," Klein said. "You have to stay positive with the kids. It doesn't change the fact that they're a great group of kids. We want nothing but the best for them. We just have to keep pointing them in the right direction and hopefully they'll come through."

West Burlington;000;132;2;—;8;8;2

Notre Dame;100;001;0;—;2;5;6

WP — Daniel Crooks (2-1). LP — Brady Oleson (0-1). Leading hitters — West Burlington: Gabe Zurita 2-3. 3B — Colten Hohenthaner. RBI — West Burlington: Crooks 1, Hohenthaner 1, Dreyton LaVeine 1, Masin Shullaw 1, Zurita 1, Taylor Martin 1; Notre Dame: Trenton Blythe 1, Lucas Anderson 1.

Records: West Burlington 65-7 overall (3-5 SEI Superconference South Division), Notre Dame 7-9 (3-5).