116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — First, Western Dubuque provided the balance offense.
Then, Iowa City High responded with solid pitching and a renewed approach at the plate.
The result was a doubleheader split between highly-ranked and Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division leaders Friday night at Mercer Park The Bobcats claimed the opener, 9-5, and the Little Hawks won the nightcap, 6-2.
Western Dubuque (23-6, 18-4) maintained its divisional lead.
“We were in first place when we started tonight and we’re still there,” Western Dubuque Coach Casey Bryant said. “We’re going to keep trying to stay there as long as we can.”
The Bobcats never trailed in the opener. They built a 3-0 lead when Tucker Nauman doubled and scored in the second and Isaac Then hit a two-run single in the third.
The Little Hawks tied the game with three in the bottom of the third, getting an RBI single from Gable Mitchell and Carter Seaton’s steal of home.
Western Dubuque pulled away with runs in three consecutive innings. Jack Clemens and Colton McIlrath opened the fourth with singles. Clemens scored on a wild pitch for a 4-3 edge.
McIlrath scored on Nauman’s single and Caleb Klein scored his second run on Garrett Kadolph’s groundout, doubling up the Little Hawks output.
Klein added a two-run single in the fifth, plating Goodman and Clemens, who had an RBI single in the sixth.
Goodman, Klein, Clemens and Nauman each scored twice. Clemens and Then tallied two RBIs to lead the Bobcats. All but one Western Dubuque starter had at least one hit. Goodman, Nauman and Clemens had two apiece.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year long,” Bryant said about the Bobcats’ balanced attack. “Caleb Klein and Jake Goodman both well.”
Then earned the win, allowing four runs on five hits through six innings of work. Goodman pitched the seventh.
City High (22-8, 17-7) was short-handed Friday, missing starters John Klosterman, Drew Larson, Gavin Koch and Ben Kueter for undisclosed reasons. Cade Obermueller started the contest but was replaced earlier in the first.
City High Coach Brian Mitchell had a simple message for his team between games.
“We’ve got some guys that have been through the battles and maybe some of you haven’t been through the battles but now it’s time for you to step up,” Mitchell said. “It’s no different from when you guys train. You all train hard. You all should have confidence in yourself. We have confidence in you. That’s why you’re out there.”
Mitchell added, “It’s been a challenge for us but each guy has the ability to do it. From top to bottom in our program, we have players. To be able to step in that situation, that’s what our expectation is.”
In the nightcap, City High freshman Talon Young provided a quality start. The right-hander worked more than five innings, surrendering just two runs on six hits in a game that moved to an adjacent field due to some failed lighting on the varsity diamond.
Drew Carlson came in to relieve after the game was moved and restarted. He went 1 2/3 scoreless innings, fanning four of seven batters faced. Mitchell came in for one batter, closing the game with a strikeout.
“Obviously, we got a great start from Talon,” the elder Mitchell said. “We just really kept them off balance. Did a nice job. He’s a competitor.
“You had the right mix there in velocities and style. Drew did everything he needed to do and Gable was a competitor at the end.”
The Little Hawks took a 2-0 lead with three first-inning walks, scoring one on an error and receiving an RBI single from Carlson.
Seaton, Mitchell and Alec Knudtson had RBIs in a three-run fourth and Mitchell drove in Joey Bouska for an insurance run in the sixth.
“Giving a two-run head start to a high caliber team, it’s hard to overcome that,” Bryant said. “Especially, when you’re not getting timely hits.”