Prep Baseball

Iowa City Regina edges Van Meter to reach Class 2A state baseball title game

Kies strikes out career-high 10, Gahan, Schooley add key RBIs in 4-3 victory

DES MOINES — Iowa City Regina advanced one step further and moved one step closer.

The Regals are in a position they haven’t been in since “Angels in the Outfield” was in theaters.

After a second straight state semifinal, top-seeded Regina advanced to the finals for its first title shot in more than two decades, beating fourth-seeded Van Meter, 4-3, at the Class 2A state baseball tournament Thursday night at Principal Park.

The Regals (29-7) return to the finals for the fourth time and first since a runner-up finish in 1994.

“It feels great,” Regina senior Ryne Schooley said. “We have a day to prepare. We’re ready for it, I think.”

Regina quashed Van Meter’s seventh-inning two-out rally, ending it when starter Jayden Kies got a groundout to end it with the tying run at second. The celebration will be short-lived.

“The game was just pure guts,” Pacha said. “We came out on top.

“Obviously, we’re happy to be where we’re at, but we’re back to work tomorrow.”

Kies (6-0) seemed like an unlikely usher into the finals at the start of the season. He had thrown just two innings in one appearance for Regina a year ago. An injury to Schooley, left the pitching staff thin. Kies described himself as a “Yes man,” willing to do whatever the team needs.

He didn’t envision being in this spot before the season started.

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“No, not at all,” Kies said. “Someone had to step up and thankfully somebody was able to do that (and) I have been able to put up big pitches and games when we need them.”

“I thought he was the everyday center fielder,” Schooley said. “It’s been such a blessing having him come on like that, because we needed someone to step up and he’s done a great job with that role. It’s awesome to see.”

Kies overcame a slow start for a stellar outing. He threw a complete game five-hitter, allowing just one earned run with a career-high 10 strikeouts.

“It is just inning by inning, pitch by pitch,” Kies said. “That is one thing I’ve kept doing and kept working.”

He retired 10 batters in a row from the end of the third to Bryce Cole’s leadoff triple in the seventh. The Bulldogs (30-9) managed two late due to two Regina errors, but Kies was in control after surrendering a run on three hits in the first.

“He got squared up early and that’s a really good-hitting team,” Pacha said. “We had to make adjustments.

“He did a great job just competing and not giving in on those tough counts.”

Regina led 3-1 in the fifth when Mitch Gahan punched an RBI single to right to bring in Trent Hoogerwerf, appearing to add a luxury insurance run. It turned out to be the game-winner.

“I had no idea it was going to be a crucial run to add,” Gahan said. “Jayden was pitching a great game, so I was just trying to come through for him.”

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Regina gave him a lead in the second, capitalizing on two bases on balls and a throwing error. Evan Suchomel and Hunter Liebermann walked. Kies reached on a throwing error, plating Suchomel and advancing Liebermann and Kies moved into scoring position.

Schooley hit a liner for a single to right to score Liebermann. Ryan Schott drove in Kies with a sacrifice fly to center, giving the Regals a 3-1 edge.

“I think the biggest thing was clutch hitting,” Schooley said. “We took advantage of their mistakes.”

Regina advances to face sixth-seeded Centerville (26-7) for the championship on Saturday, starting at 1:30 p.m.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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