Prep Baseball

Iowa City High baseball hopes to take advantage of topsy-turvy substate

Little Hawks blast Cedar Rapids Kennedy in postseason opener, 11-3

IOWA CITY — Things just got interesting for the Iowa City High baseball team. Really interesting.

The Little Hawks toppled Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 11-3, Friday night in a Class 4A substate first-rounder at Mercer Park, but that wasn’t the biggest story.

The top seed in the substate, fifth-ranked Southeast Polk, was stunned by Waterloo West. What that means for City High (23-17) is another home game Monday night in the substate semifinals instead of an anticipated roadie.

West, a mere 8-29, will be the opponent. The Little Hawks swept a regular-season double-header.

Marshalltown, the substate’s No. 2 seed, escaped Cedar Falls, 2-1, in its first-rounder and benefits big time by advancing to next week’s substate finals at home against either City High or West. Just craziness.

“I think we figured an upset might happen, but we were thinking more Cedar Falls than Waterloo West,” said City High first baseman Jason Dykes. “But you look at Waterloo West, we played them, they’ve played some good teams close ... You can never count them out. It’s just nice for us not to have to get on a bus twice now.”

There were a couple of pivotal moments Friday night that sent City High onward in the postseason. Kennedy (13-25) scored once in the top of the first inning but could have done significantly more damage considering its first five hitters reached via either hit, walk or hit by pitch.

A runner thrown out trying to advance on a potential wild pitch was significant. City High responded for five runs in the bottom of the inning, including a Dykes RBI single and Sam Lewers two-run double.

“First five guys reach base, and we get one run out of it. That’s not good,” said Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer. “There were plays to be made tonight, and we couldn’t make them. That’s been the story of the season.”

Kennedy worked its way back to a 6-3 deficit with a pair of runs in the fourth and had the bases loaded with one out, chasing City High starting pitcher Ry Threlkeld-Wiegand. But Graham Woods lined into an inning-ending double play to third baseman Lewers, and the Cougars didn’t score again.

Brady Herzic didn’t allow a hit in 3 1/3 terrific relief innings to get the win.

“Just looking to throw strikes and then let the fielders make plays,” Herzic said. “Our coach preaches that strikeouts will come. We don’t pitch for them, we try to pitch to contact and let our fielders make plays. Sam at third base made a good play, and we got out of there.”

Dykes and Lewers finished with three hits apiece, accounting for half of City High’s hit total. Kennedy had just three hits but drew nine walks.

This was the least-successful team in Hoyer’s 26 years at the school.

“We expected to swing it well tonight,” said City High Coach Brian Mitchell. “But you don’t know in this environment.”

Yeah, just ask Southeast Polk about that.

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

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