IOWA CITY — The game was simply a battle.
Pleasant Valley and Iowa City High traded rallies, leads and even a few hits throughout until the very end.
With the tying run on third base, Pleasant Valley pitcher Max Clausen scooped up a bunt and threw to first for the final out, allowing the Spartans to escape with a 10-9 hard fought victory over the Little Hawks in the Class 4A Substate 6 semifinal Monday night at Mercer Park.
“We wanted to get everything, even up to the last inning we had the (game-tying) run on third base,” City High senior Zach Kuepker said. “We just wanted to give it our all. We didn’t want it to be our last game, but unfortunately it turned out to be that way.”
City High was tossed into an early hole for the second straight game, giving up four runs on four hits and two errors in the first. The Little Hawks remained poised and answered with five runs.
Kuepker delivered a two-run triple and scored when D.J. Heck reached on an error. Sam Lewers added an RBI for City High’s first lead.
“They’re a good team,” City High Coach Brian Mitchell said of Pleasant Valley. “We knew they were playing really well. I honestly thought the way we came out and swung the bats was really impressive after going down 4-0.”
City High capitalized on two walks and consecutive wild pitches to score Gable Mitchell and courtesy runner Dustin Dickerson in the second, increasing the lead to 7-5.
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City High responded after the initial onslaught but couldn’t produce the timely hit in the middle innings. The Little Hawks stranded nine runners form the third through sixth innings, including the bases loaded down by one in the sixth.
“You go throughout that scoreboard and we had some opportunities to maybe expand that lead and it just didn’t happen,” Mitchell said. “That’s the game. They had a lot more hits, but we were right there in the end and had our chances.”
Pleasant Valley rapped 14 hits, including two from Ryan Mumey, who had an RBI single to cap a two-run fourth to tie the game, 7-7. Pleasant Valley took the lead in the fifth on Jose Lara’s RBI single. The Spartans (24-11) iced the game in the seventh. Kyle McDermott led off with a double and scored on Eric Clifton’s triple. Peyton Lindmark drove in the eventual game-winning RBI with a single.
“They got more bloop hits, I’d say, this time,” Kuepker said, compared to the regular-season matchup City High won, 8-6. “Just hit them where we weren’t. It’s a little disappointing.”
City High rallied for two in the seventh and had the winning run on base, but Clausen was able to get out of the jam in his fourth inning of relief for the win.
City High finished the season 25-16. Mitchell praised the seniors for their contribution and the way they mentored the younger players.
“You have got great seniors in there,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to miss them.”
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