Prep Baseball

Cedar Rapids Washington's miraculous postseason run comes to an end

Luke Llewellyn throws 2-hitter as Urbandale wins Class 4A baseball championship, 3-0

DES MOINES — No miracle ending this time. Luke Llewellyn wouldn’t allow that.

Or anything close to that.

The Urbandale pitcher was about as good as it gets Saturday night in the Class 4A state baseball championship game, a complete-game two-hitter with 13 strikeouts not allowing Cedar Rapids Washington to finish off its surprise postseason run in appropriate fashion. A 3-0 J-Hawks win at Principal Park was quite simply all about the right-hander with the fuzzy hairdo and straight-over-the-top delivery.

“I felt the greatest I’ve felt. That was the best start of my life,” Llewellyn said. “Everything was clicking. I was throwing strikes, I had the curveball working. It was awesome.”

“He was special tonight,” said Urbandale Coach Jeremy Heinen.

Washington (27-18) was this field’s eighth seed but it shocked defending 4A champ Johnston in the first round and stunned West Des Moines Valley in Friday night’s semifinals with a four-run seventh-inning rally that came without the benefit of a hit or Valley error. But the Warriors had only three baserunners the entire game against Llewellyn, a Kirkwood Community College signee who had a microscopic 0.49 earned run average coming into this tournament.

None of those runners got past first base.

“He pumped the zone really well, just did his job,” said Lincoln Riley, who had one of two Wash singles.

Drew Christensen had the other, with Riley walking to lead off the seventh inning to account for his team’s other baserunner.

“He was on,” said Washington Coach Scott Brune. “He had that great down angle on his ball, filled up the zone, threw two or three pitches for strikes. He’s a good pitcher.”

Urbandale (36-6) scored the only run it needed in the bottom of the first inning on a Carter Troncin RBI double. The J-Hawks added a pair in the third, though that was all Wash pitchers Ben Skogman and Rimmy Nemickas gave up.

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Nemickas, in particular, was great, relieving Skogman in the fourth and striking out six of the seven batters he faced.

“I didn’t think I was going to have to be that demanding,” Skogman said. “They just played a really good game. There’s nothing we could really do about it. (Llewellyn) has a really nice release point that is hard to find. Has some pretty good velocity, too.”

“To hold a great offensive team like that to three runs, you think you’d have a chance,” Brune said. “But we couldn’t string any hits together, only had a couple of hits on the night. Hats off to that guy. He pitched a hell of a game.”

Washington overcame injuries, illnesses and deficits in its first five postseason games to unexpectedly reach the title tilt. It couldn’t quite overcome a great opposing pitching performance to win its first championship since 1994.

“We beat how many top-10 teams this postseason?” Riley said. “We came in here with a nice mentality. The eighth seed, we made history. No one else has done this before. I’m proud of these guys. I love this team.”

“Fun ride. A great group of guys,” Brune said. “I’m glad I got the opportunity to coach them. It’s going to be sad to see all those seniors go. It’s been a long time with those guys. They really turned the program around, and kind of earned Cedar Rapids Washington some respect. Coming in here as an eight seed, no one expected much out of us. Here we are in the championship game, competing to the very end. We just lost to a very good pitcher.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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