Decisive fourth inning propels Iowa City West to state baseball tournament

Trojans defeat Davenport Central, 7-1

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Susan Harman, correspondent

IOWA CITY — Freshman designated hitter Jason Strunk blasted a go-ahead two-run homer to center to give Iowa City West a 3-1 lead over Davenport Central in the fourth inning of a Class 4A substate final Wednesday night. As big a blow as that was, it was what the Trojans did after that in the same inning that sealed the Blue Devils’ fate.

West used two more hits, two Central errors and the dancing feet of junior Dane Randall to add two more runs in the fourth as it won, 7-1. The second-ranked Trojans (33-6) return to the state tournament for the 10th time. They were runners-up last season.

Central scored first on McLaine Waddell’s double in the third inning. West tied it in the bottom half on Connor McCaffery’s bases-loaded smash into the left field corner, but Central threw out one runner at the plate and then caught another in a rundown to minimize the damage.

Spencer Wiskus led off the fourth with a double to bring up Strunk.

“He was working a lot of fastballs low and away,” Strunk said. “He was throwing off speed a little bit. He’s got a good curveball. He threw a strike — it was a fastball.”

Strunk didn’t see it clear the fence for his second homer of the season. “We have a rule: Don’t watch it,” he said. “Run out as fast as you can, so I didn’t know until everyone started cheering.”

Nate Disterhoft singled and Tanner Lohaus walked on four pitches. Central pitcher Ian Bedell threw the ball into center field trying to pick off Disterhoft as things started to unravel. Randall reached on a fielders choice, leaving runners at first and third.

Randall took off from first on Central (25-11) and purposely got caught in a rundown. Lohaus broke for the plate after hesitating. Michael Rediger’s throw home went wild and the run scored.

“The goal was just to stay in the rundown as long as possible,” Randall said. “It looked like they were struggling just throwing it around a little bit and hesitating and it ended up working out.”

Izaya Ono-Fullard’s bloop single to center with two out scored the fourth run of the inning.

Ono-Fullard knocked in two more runs in the sixth to ice the game.

Miller (10-1) struck out nine and gave up only two hits.

“The first couple innings, the fastball was really working, then I started elevating it,” Miller said. “Then about the fifth through the seventh, the changeup was really good. That’s what got me a lot of strikeouts.”

“He had great command,” Coach Charlie Stumpff said. “He threw strikes and made big pitches. He knew he had to do that against their guy. He’s really good.”

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