116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — It was a real solid combination of punches. A straight jab to the face, followed by a good left hook to the jaw.
They staggered the giant known as Davenport Assumption, sent the mighty Knights backward a few steps.
But a three-run top of the first inning for the Independence baseball team Wednesday night didn’t provide a knockout. By game’s end, the Mustangs ended up getting knocked out themselves.
Class 3A’s top-seeded team and second-ranked team mercy ruled a second straight opponent this week at the state tournament, a 13-3, five-inning semifinal victory.
Assumption (32-6) seeks its fifth state title in the 2000s Friday when it takes on Western Dubuque at Banks Field. The Knights, whose only loss to a non-4A team was to Solon, beat Pella in the quarterfinals, 11-1, in six innings.
One heck of a memorable season for Independence concludes with a 30-12 record.
“We actually said that with the boys during the week. Sometimes in matches like this you need to pop your opponent in the mouth and see how they respond,” said Independence Coach Matt Miller. “Right now, we tip our cap to them, because they responded well.”
The second batter of the game, Marcus Beatty smoked a solo home run to right-center field to put Indee on top. Keegan Schmitt’s two-out RBI double into the right-field corner, followed by Assumption’s only error of the game gave the Mustangs their very early three spot.
“That first inning, I thought we were going to win it all,” said Indee sophomore leadoff hitter Trey Weber. “But, obviously, things didn’t go our way. That’s just the game. They got momentum, and we couldn’t stop it. They kept pouring it on.”
The Knights whittled their immediate disadvantage to just a run after a full inning, then scored six second-inning runs to charge ahead for good, 8-3. Independence stabilized the game for a while, but five runs in the bottom of the fifth ended it.
Assumption did a terrific job with the bats (11 hits and five walks drawn), while Indee didn’t do a terrific job defensively, committing five errors. Knights starting pitcher Tyler Welch settled down and settled in after the rough first, with Independence picking up just one hit (a Weber double) and two walks the rest of the way.
One of those walks was intentional.
“There are times during the summer where you feel you gave the game away,” Miller said. “Then there are times when they beat you. We certainly made our mistakes today. But I also like they just went out and beat us.”
Nothing for these Mustangs to hang their heads about in the end, though. This was just Independence’s third time at the state tournament, the first since 2010.
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