Prep Baseball

Monticello baseball breaks out of slump against Cascade in district semifinals

Panthers end 3-game losing streak with 6-3 win, face Beckman on Saturday

DYERSVILLE — Timing is everything. Just ask Monticello baseball coach Kolby Harms.

Last week, the Panthers were in the midst of a three-game losing streak capped with one run and two hits total in consecutive games against Mid-Prairie and Cascade.

They picked a good time to end their offensive woes and avenge their latest loss.

Monticello earned its revenge, receiving two hits and two RBIs from Brayden Cleeton, five quality innings from freshman starter Dylan Roher and dropped Cascade, 6-3, in a Class 2A District 7 semifinal Tuesday at Jenk Field of Commercial Club Park.

“We came out and fought with everything we’ve got,” Monticello junior Justin Recker said. “We did what we could to win.”

The Panthers (5-7) managed six hits and tied their third-highest run total of the season, advancing to face Dyersville Beckman (9-12) here in Saturday’s district final.

“We talked with the boys and we knew we were right there,” Harms said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit offensively. We did some things in practice and kept preaching that eventually the balls will start bouncing our way.

“Talk about perfect timing.”

Monticello grabbed an early lead with a run in the first. Preston Ries drew a two-out walk. Recker delivered a single to right and Ries motored around to home when the ball was bobbled before an errant throw.

The Panthers executed a double steal with Recker stealing home in the fourth, making it 2-0.

“We were going to try to run a little bit and force the action, force some things,” Harms said. “We kind of got some breaks. We started running them a little bit.”

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Roher had an advantage to work with by the time he stepped on the mound. He said he had added confidence, knowing he had more of a margin for error. Roher allowed just two runs on three hits, improving to 2-1 and lowering his 2.17 earned-run average.

“I just did my part,” Roher said. “Let them hit the ball and have the defense do their thing. The defense worked. It was a team effort, for sure.”

Harms said Roher has been a “workhorse” all season, leading the team in innings pitched. Caleb Sauser closed the game, allowing a run on just one hit in two innings. The pair complement each other well.

“Dylan got us a quality five,” Harms said. “We went with Sauser for a little change of pace. We’ve been doing it all year. We stayed with the game plan and it worked.”

The Cougars (5-6) tied the game with two in the fourth. Ted Weber had an RBI groundout and Carter Green’s RBI single plated Eli Green, who doubled. Kaleb Topping and Eli Green led Cascade with two hits apiece.

The Panthers pulled away with two runs in each of the final two innings. Cleeton ripped an RBI double to score Recker in the sixth. Cleeton added an RBI groundout and Recker singled and scored the following inning.

“It was big,” Recker said about the late runs. “We knew we had to score. We just stayed confident and we didn’t lose our composure.”

Beckman moved on to the district final with a 14-4 victory over Bellevue (4-9) in five innings. The first eight batters reached and scored for the Blazers in the first, including Nick Offerman’s three-run triple.

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Beckman added two in the second, receiving an RBI single from Jack Westhoff. Offerman and Luke Goedken had run-scoring hits in the four-run fourth. Offerman finished with three hits and four RBIs, while Westhoff and Owen Huehnergarth had two apiece. Logan Burchard earned his first victory this season.

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

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