116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CARROLL — This time it was tougher to swallow.
Maybe it was because Lisbon had goals to improve last year’s finish but experienced the same fate. It could be that the Lions were close and just within a play or two from advancing.
Mason City Newman’s Doug Taylor tallied his 12th strikeout for the final out with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position and helped the second-seeded Knights hold off No. 7-seed Lisbon, 3-2, in the Class 1A state quarterfinals Monday night at Merchants Park.
“This one stings way worse,” Lisbon starter Hunter Clark said. “I feel like if we make one or two more plays in that first inning we’re winning that game. We’re on the opposite end of this.”
The Lions exited the tournament in the first round. Lisbon was one of only nine teams in all classes to qualify each of the last two years.
“I’m proud that they’re back to this stage,” Lisbon Coach John Tesensky said. “Obviously, you want to compete and take that next step, but at the end of the day we’re only one of eight teams left in 1A that continued. That is all the effort that the boys had and the resolve they had in tough situations.”
Lisbon’s Cohen Kamaus said, “Last year was more we were glad to be here. This year, we were more like we’re going to run the table. Two state appearances in two years, you can’t really ask for more than that.”
Newman built a 3-0 lead through three innings. In the first, Max Burt reached on a pop fly to right field that was lost in the sun and ruled a single when it dropped. Taylor ripped a double over the left fielder’s head and Nash Holmgaard followed with a sacrifice fly to center, bringing in Burt for a 1-0 lead.
The Knights used two singles and a walk to load the bases in the third. Bennett Suntken hit a groundball to shortstop. The Lions got the runner at second, but Suntken beat the throw, allowing Tim Castle to score. The throw skipped away, which led to Burt scoring for a three-run lead.
“I was really proud of our guys’ effort,” Tesensky said. “There were times we could have backed down and rolled over but I think the experience of them being here last year kept us in that game until the last pitch.”
Lisbon rallied with a two-run fourth. Alex Bock reached on an error to leadoff the inning, racing to second when the throw reached the first-base dugout.
Clark contributed offensively, too. He moved Bock to third on the next at-bat and Tyson Scott’s groundout brought him in for the Lions’ first run. Cohen Kamaus produced an RBI single that plated Clark to bring the Lions within a run at 3-2.
“I was just trying to hit something hard on the ground and get that guy in from third,” Kamaus said. “I ended up hitting one through the 5/6 hole, which is always nice. I haven’t had the year I wanted at the plate. It felt really nice to get a hit here at the state tournament.”
Clark kept Lisbon in the game. The right-handed starter surrendered just two earned runs and scattered six hits. He struck out nine, stranding Knights in scoring position three times.
Clark said he wanted to throw everything he had at the Knights.
“I mixed it up a lot on them,” Clark said. “I feel like they were guessing all night on what I was going to throw to them.”
Tesensky said Clark rose to the challenge presented by a potential Newman lineup. The outing was no surprise and indicative of Clark’s entire season.
“He fought his butt off,” Tesensky said. “That’s the effort we’ve got from Hunter all year.”
Taylor (8-1) was just as effective. He limited Lisbon to two unearned runs on four hits. Taylor retired nine straight batters before Brayton was hit by a pitch and Kaden Caspers reached on an error with two outs in the seventh.
“I just regrouped a little bit and tried to locate my pitches to get more swings and misses,” Taylor said. “I think that’s what made me successful at the end of the game.”
Lisbon ends the season at 24-6. It graduates pillars of the lineup in Tyler and Tyson Scott. The Lions do return everyone else, including eight juniors with experience. Many have played in two state tournaments.
Clark said the work starts immediately.
“We want it more than ever next year,” Clark said. “We’re going to be back at Carroll to make a state title run.”
Newman (33-3) advances to face third-seeded New London (29-1) in a semifinal Wednesday.