116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — He was nervous. Absolutely he was nervous.
Garrett Kadolph wasn’t too proud to admit that.
“I looked at Coach (Casey) Bryant and said ‘This is the most stressful baseball situation I’ve ever been in my life,’” the Western Dubuque senior said. “As a kid, you’re always dreaming about it being the bottom of the ninth and two out, runner-on-third scenario. For it really go come true was kind of crazy. It was almost overwhelming at times.
“But it worked out.”
It sure did. Kadolph drove a two-strike pitch to the warning track in dead center that Winterset center fielder Austin Jordan got a glove on but couldn’t quite haul in, scoring two runs and giving Western Dubuque a walk-off 4-3 win in a thrilling late-night Class 3A state baseball tournament quarterfinal at Banks Field.
The game ended about 11:45 p.m.
“He goes ‘This is the most nervous, stressful baseball situation I’ve ever been in.’ I go ‘Dude, I’m so happy you came to Western Dubuque. Just get a good pitch and hit it hard,’” Bryant said. “’If you hit it at someone, so what? Just let it all hang loose and have some fun.’ Boy, he hit it a long way.”
Kadolph played last season for a Dubuque Wahlert team that was the 3A runner-up, by the way. Western Dubuque (30-11) plays Sergeant Bluff-Luton (31-11) in a semifinal Wednesday night at 7:30.
Winterset (16-15) has two exquisite pitchers in Justin Hackett, the Texas Christian University commit who started this game, and lefty reliever Jake Porter. WD was able to elevate Hackett’s pitch count to the 84 mark through four innings, which brought in Porter to try and preserve a 3-2 lead and keep Hackett eligible to throw Friday in a potential championship game.
Porter threw his 40th and final pitch to WD leadoff hitter Jake Goodman with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was a strike to make it a 3-2 count.
In order to keep Porter eligible to pitch in Wednesday’s semifinals, Winterset Coach Travis Nedved decided to bring in sophomore Michael Sents to take over Goodman’s at-bat and try and get two outs somehow.
Sents threw a first-pitch ball to walk Goodman, and he stole second base. A fly to center gave Western Dubuque a second out, but eighth-grader Brett Harris walked on a 3-2 pitch and Tucker Nauman was hit by a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.
Then Kadolph happened, and all that strategy to keep guys available for later tournament games was moot.
“We did the same thing,” Bryant said. “Kept (starter) Isaac (Then) under 90, took him out. Put the next guy in (Nauman), who we wanted to keep under 40. We both had the same strategy. If you’re going to be here, you might as well go win the damn thing. Now we can start Tucker on Wednesday if we want, throw Isaac on Friday if we want. So I can’t blame (Nedved). He did exactly as I would do. You work your tail off to get here, you might as well run a strategy that can win you the whole thing.”
By the way, Hackett (whose fastball sat 88-89 miles per hour in this game) gave up three hits, four walks and two runs, striking out six. The two runs came courtesy of of Nauman’s two-run, inside-the-park home run in the third.
Nauman hit a sinking liner to center field with two outs that Jordan dove for but came up short, the ball rolling all the way to the center-field fence, allowing Nauman to circle the bases.
“I put a good swing on it and broke on it off the bat,” Nauman said. “The whole time I was like ‘Please, get down. Please, get down.’ Once it got down, I didn’t know I would be going all the way around. But I saw Coach Bryant at third base waving me on, so I had to keep going.”
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