116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Players for Hiawatha Legion Post 735 have taken the field with one another since they were young.
The team comprised of Cedar Rapids Washington athletes has a strong rapport bolstered by good camaraderie and confidence.
“It’s a very tight-knit group of guys,” Washington senior Jabari Dobbs said. “We all grew up together for a very long time.
“We all just come together and play. We just want to have fun. Have fun and win.”
The Warriors had a grand ol’ time, rallying for 12 runs in the final two innings for a 12-2 victory over Prairie Legion Post 671 in the American Legion Baseball state qualifier Friday night at Washington High School. Post 735 advances to the state tournament July 24 in Spencer.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for us,” Dobbs said. “It’s a great place to where we want to be and to keep going forward from here.”
The Warriors reached the state tournament for the second straight year.
“I’m very proud of them,” Post 735 Coach Matt Kuba said. “They played good ball all year long.”
The team subscribed to a motto that emphasized “we” and “believe” in the spring. The unified attitude powered them for one more comeback. They were resilient, overcoming a 2-0 deficit after Prairie’s first two batters of the game.
“We believed every inning, every at-bat, until we saw the game through with these kids,” Kuba said. “It was just awesome and exciting to watch these kids play.”
The Warriors were sparked by an eight-run sixth, sending 12 batters to the plate. They opened with three straight hits, including a leadoff single by Jack Rogers to lead off the frame. Caiden Buonadonna followed with a double and Jaxton Schroeder tied the game with a two-run single.
Post 735 capitalized on a couple Prairie errors and Caden Stock hit a run-scoring double. Rogers and Buonadonna batted again in the frame. Rogers added a two-run double and Buonadonna drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. The Warriors strung together five hits in the inning.
Rogers had an RBI single and Erich Rinderknecht’s three-run double padded the Warriors’ lead in the seventh. Roman Rivera, Rogers and Buonadonna each had two hits, while Dobbs had a game-high three hits.
“We all had a great time,” Dobbs said about the big sixth inning. “It was fun, doing what we do, playing baseball and playing together.”
Dobbs produced a strong start on the mound after a rough beginning. He surrendered a leadoff double to Maddux Frese and Cal Sullivan belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. Frese started on the mound for Prairie, tossing five scoreless innings and striking out seven.
Dobbs settled after the home run and gave up just two more hits in six innings.
The left-hander struck out eight of the 25 batters he faced, closing with five scoreless innings. Ethan Heinemann retired Prairie in order in the seventh.
“Really, it was getting a feel for the ball and doing what we do as a team,” Dobbs said. “I just had to throw strikes and let my team get everything else done for me.”
Dobbs is a multi-sport athlete for Washington. He also played football, but baseball has been his favorite activity. The game and the guys on the field have always made it that way.
“When I’m playing, it gives me the best feeling,” Dobbs said. “Having all my teammates, it’s just the most fun to play for me.”
Dobbs returns as an all-district, all-Mississippi Valley Conference and all-Metro performer. He is just one of five seniors on Washington’s young roster. The aspirations are lofty, including a Class 4A state tournament appearance to go along with the American Legion competition.
“I’m looking to do really big things and for us to go far — this state (tournament) and state in the regular (varsity) season,” Dobbs said. “It’s going to take every single one of our players on our team to work hard and get better, as an individual player and a team, so we can do the big things we want to do this year.”