IOWA CITY — There are those who think trying to steal third base with two outs is kind of a selfish play. The risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.
But that’s not always the case. Wednesday night was one of those cases.
Kolbe Schnoebelen’s infield single off the pitcher’s glove with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Garrett Bormann and gave Iowa City High a 4-3 walk-off win over Linn-Mar in a terrific Class 4A substate final baseball game at Mercer Park.
It’s the second walk-off win in as many postseason games for City High (11-8), which scored three times in the seventh inning to beat Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 3-2, in a substate opener last Friday night. The Little Hawks advance to the state tournament next week at Principal Park in Des Moines, their first trip there since 2003.
“These kids are the hardest workers you can get,” said City High Coach Brian Mitchell, who played on a 1995 City High team that lost to West Des Moines Valley in the state championship game. “This group here has been coming for a long time. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Bormann led off the City High seventh with a single through the left side, his third hit of the game. He was still at first base after a pair of flyouts, but stole second, then third on a two-strike pitch to Schnoebelen.
On a full count, Schnoebelen hit a hard comebacker that glanced off Linn-Mar pitcher Carson Recker’s glove. By the time Recker could retrieve the baseball a few feet from the mound and throw to first, Schnoebelen already had crossed the base.
City High players sprinted to Schnoebelen at first base in sheer glee, the celebratory mob meandering its way into right field. Recker, meanwhile, laid face first on the infield in sheer despair.
“When Garrett stole second and third, I’m just trying to get it on the ground, hit it on a line,” Schnoebelen said. “I tried to battle, got to a full count. Just put it in play. Luckily, I was able to get on base, and we won the game.”
Schnoebelen and Bormann are a pair of seniors on a young team that has four sophomore starters.
“With no outs, I knew I had to stay close to first base, couldn’t get thrown out or picked off, anything like that. After I didn’t get advanced, I knew I had to try and take second base, get into scoring position. Once I got to second base, the pitcher wasn’t really giving me any looks, so I knew I could take third. Then on a hit like that to the pitcher, if I’m on second base, I don’t score.”
Linn-Mar (7-9) scored three runs in the top of the first to grab early momentum, but City High countered in the bottom half to tie it. That’s the way things stayed until the seventh, with Recker and City High reliever Reese Hayden putting up zeroes in an expert pitcher’s duel.
Hayden relieved starter Cade Obermueller after Linn-Mar’s early flurry, throwing 6 2/3 innings of three-hit, shutout ball for the win. Recker really settled down and settled in after his rough first inning, allowing nine hits, not walking anyone and striking out two, suffering the tough-luck loss.
“We played well, man. We played real well,” Linn-Mar Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “Carson ... that was a gutty performance. I know he’s hanging his head on the last play there, but that’s just a fluke thing. Just a fluke thing. We were this close, this close.”
City High assistant sophomore coach Skyler Moss was in attendance at Wednesday’s game. The City High grad has been battling Stage 4 cancer and has undergone two rounds of treatment.
Moss beat cancer 10 years ago.
“It was really special him being here and watching,” Schnoebelen said. “It’s inspiration how he has battled. Really special.”
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