116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Cedar Rapids Prairie’s baseball team took everyone on quite an emotional ride the last couple of weeks.
There was a late rally to win a Class 4A substate final. There was an even later, bigger rally to win a state tournament quarterfinal.
Then there was this: a gut punch, a brutal 4-3, walk-off loss to Pleasant Valley in a state semifinal Friday night at Banks Field that was as good a prep game as you’ll see.
“I’d just like to look at it and say that we earned our spot here. It was not given to us,” said Prairie outfielder Colton Forslund. “I’m proud of our guys, it’s a special team, I love these guys. I’ve been playing with them forever. Just to be in this situation with them was great, despite the outcome.”
Alex Clemons lined what turned out to be a single over the left fielder’s head with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh to win it for top-ranked, top-seeded PV (36-4), which plays either Johnston or Ankeny for a championship Saturday afternoon.
Carson Albrecht doubled leading off the inning and went to third on a one-out single through the left side by Drew Micek. Prairie intentionally walked leadoff man Barrett Lindmark to load them and set up a force at home.
Prairie relief pitcher Bronx Lewis got Caden McDermott to fly to shallow right, everyone holding. But Clemons picked on the first pitch he saw and drove it.
“I had all the confidence in the world,” Clemons said. “I knew whatever he was going to throw me, I was going to hit it. I was going to win the game.”
Prairie (33-9) had the lead for most of this game, getting a two-run, two-out single from Forslund in the third and a Brandon Vlcko RBI single in the fifth for a 3-0 edge. Starting pitcher Ryan Barnes didn’t allow a hit through four and faced the minimum through four.
But that man Albrecht hit a two-run home run to left with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to bring PV back into it. A run-scoring single by Seth Clausen against reliever Maddux Frese knotted things in the sixth.
“Yeah, I would like to have that one pitch back,” Barnes said. “I just went in there with my mind cleared, tried to pound the zone.”
Prairie went in order in the top of the seventh. You know about the bottom half.
“I know it’s the cliché, coaches say it all the time, that only one team is going to walk away from this happy,” said Prairie Coach James Nelson. “Right now, that’s the way they feel. We know that we battled through this whole thing, comeback victories, all of it. Those are things they’re never going to forget.”
These teams played a regular-season game in early June that Pleasant Valley won. Just guess the final score.
Yup, it was 4-3. Cruel irony.
“That was fun baseball,” Nelson said. “To go toe to toe with the No. 1 team in the state, feel like you had a shot at it, it’s pretty special. But it obviously hurts to come out on the losing end.”
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