CEDAR RAPIDS — The Mississippi Valley Conference had best beware. Western Dubuque comes in next season with a baseball team that loses only one starter to graduation.
These Bobcats are gonna be really good.
But let’s back things up first, and warn the other seven teams in this year’s Class 4A state tournament. These Bobcats are already really good and have the arms to make a deep run.
“I hope so,” said Western Dubuque’s Sam Goodman, after his club clubbed third-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie, 9-0, Wednesday night in a substate final. “I kind of take it a little bit as a slap in the face when teams bring up the whole 3A, 2A thing in conversation. I think we belong, and I think this game shows we belong. Next year in the MVC, I hope we keep proving that all year.”
Western Dubuque (33-9), of course, just finished up its final season in the Wamac Conference. As Goodman noted, that’s a 2A-3A league.
But the Bobcats can put three starting pitchers out there that give them a legit chance to beat anyone at anytime. Goodman (Wichita State), Calvin Harris (Mississippi) and Zach Bierman (Creighton) all have committed to D-I colleges and have earned run averages of 1.54 or lower.
Harris and Goodman have sub-1.00 ERAs.
“We definitely know we’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” said sophomore Harris, who caught Wednesday night and might end up being an infielder in college. “This year, especially, with all the hard work we put in, all 16, all 17 of us put in a huge workload this past fall, the winter, the spring and summer. We’re just really excited to go out there and compete as hard as we can.”
“I think they’re really good,” said Prairie Coach Todd Rima, whose team’s season ended 31-9. “We’ve seen them three or four times, and that’s the best they’ve swung it. They swing it like that, they are a very dangerous team.”
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WD swung it to the tune of 13 hits, knocking out Prairie ace Harrison Cook (a Kentucky commit) with a five-run third inning. A couple of errors played huge in the rally.
Goodman took care of the rest, scattering seven hits and striking out seven. He also went 3-for-5 at the plate, with a double, triple and three RBIs.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” he said. “We didn’t want to come out here scared of those guys. I know they were the bigger, better team on paper and everything. We just wanted to come out and prove we belonged. We came out here and swung the bats, and I just tried to be a part of that.”
Griff Clark and Jaylynn Smith had two hits apiece for Prairie, which was the top seed in this substate.
“We definitely dug ourselves a hole,” Rima said. “Made a few mistakes defensively, and we knew we couldn’t coming in. You didn’t want to give them free bases. Once you get five runs down against a guy like that, you’re in trouble. He did a great job. You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They took advantage of every mistake we made, and Goodman slammed the door.”
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