SOLON — Home runs are not an essential component of any Solon baseball success story.
But when they are hit, they tend to arrive in significant moments.
The fifth-ranked Spartans clubbed four home runs, rallied from a four-run deficit in the first inning and whitewashed Clear Creek Amana, 17-9, in a Class 3A district final Monday night at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
“They were all big in the sense that we were responding to something,” Solon Coach Keith McSweeney said. “They were big. They gave us momentum. They got momentum back in our dugout.”
Clear Creek Amana scored more runs in the top of the first inning (4) than it did in two entire games against Solon earlier this season (both CCA losses).
The Solon response was quick and decisive.
“I think that actually gave us a little bit of a spark,” Solon senior Spencer Wegmann said. “A kick in the butt, to say the least. I think that gave us a little gun powder to fire up and start playing harder.”
The Spartans collected five hits and seven runs in the bottom of the first inning, which started with an RBI double from University of Iowa football signee Tyler Linderbaum.
Wegmann’s twin brother Zach and South Dakota State signee Luke Ira both drove in first-inning runs with singles, while senior Kendrick Harris capped the opening outburst with a two-run single.
“You never know how a team is going to respond in that situation,” McSweeney said. We haven’t really had to face that kind of adversity with this much on the line. Hats off to Clear Creek. They came out swinging it. ... Our guys responded and that was big. It allowed our pitcher to settle down.”
On the mound, Ira retired 10 batters in a row through the fourth inning, including eight via strikeout. Silencing the Clear Creek Amana batters for three innings allowed his offense to pad its lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, an RBI double by Zach Wegmann started a five-run frame, capped by a three-run home run by Spencer Wegmann that pushed the Solon lead to 13-4.
“I was looking for my pitch and thankfully it came on the first throw,” Spencer Wegmann said. “I was able to capitalize on it.”
After the Clippers staved off elimination with a four-run top of the fifth inning that cut their deficit to 13-8, Zach Wegmann answered with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the frame, his fifth this season.
“Hats off to the whole team,” Zach Wegmann said. “They are putting in great at-bats, making the pitcher work. By the time I’m up, he’s getting tired up there and it is just easy for me.”
Ira – a first team all-state selection last season – and fellow senior Kendrick Harris began the sixth inning with back-to-back solo home runs. For Ira, it was his state-best 19th this season, which breaks the school record set by Cody Strang in 2008.
On the mound, Ira improved to 6-1 this season as he finished with 11 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed nine hits and nine runs before giving way to relief pitcher Ryan Geistkemper for the final out.
“He threw a lot of pitches and anybody is going to be fatigued in that situation,” McSweeney said. “He still battled. That is a credit to Luke and a credit to our team.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Senior David Jensen doubled, singled and drove in two runs for Clear Creek Amana, which ended its season at 19-20. Senior Cody Ogden dropped to 1-2 on the mound this season.
Solon (31-10) will host Fairfield (30-8) in a substate game on Wednesday at 7. The winner will advance to the state tournament in Des Moines.
Solon last qualified for state two years ago when it reached the state semifinals.
“We’re just focused about us at this point,” Zach Wegmann said. “Looking at what we can do to get better in these two short days before the game. Just come to the ballpark ready to play.”
l Comments: email@example.com