CORONAVIRUS

Western Dubuque baseball season suspended by COVID-19 in middle of game against Cedar Rapids Washington

Western Dubuque head coach Casey Bryant walks onto the mound to talk to his team with one out left in the first game of
Western Dubuque head coach Casey Bryant walks onto the mound to talk to his team with one out left in the first game of their doubleheader at Liberty High School in Iowa City on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Western Dubuque’s baseball season came to a halt Wednesday night ... in the middle of a game it was playing.

The Bobcats were leading Cedar Rapids Washington, 6-1, in the top of the third inning at Washington when word got to head coach Casey Bryant from the school’s administration to stop play immediately because it had been learned a WD player may have been exposed to COVID-19.

“As a Western Dubuque administration, we were notified of some information on possible exposure in our baseball program and decided it was in the best interest of all athletes, coaches, umpires and community members to stop the games,” Western Dubuque Activities Director Tyler Lown said.

“It was described to me as a negligence issue,” Bryant said. “When the game started, we had no knowledge of any potential cross-examination between a positive COVID result and some of the baseball players. Our administration found out, and as soon as they got that information, they had to act immediately because you don’t want the risk of exposing someone when you have that knowledge.”

Bryant said he was told someone in the Western Dubuque community not associated with the baseball program had just tested positive for the coronavirus. Through contact tracing, it was learned a sophomore player in the program had close and extended contact with this person.

The player has a sibling on the WD varsity team, though Bryant said they do not live in the same household and it is unknown how much, if any, contact the two have had in the past 14 days.

“Just to be sure we are stopping potential spread here, we are shutting everything down,” Bryant said. “They are trying to finalize the contact tracing ... We could be back up and running tomorrow. I think our sophomores are waiting on a test result.”

This is the third brush with COVID-19 the team has had this season.

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It played Dubuque Wahlert the night before it was learned a Wahlert coach had tested positive, though Bryant said that coach never left the dugout that night. It played Cedar Falls last week the night before it was learned a Cedar Falls player had tested positive, though, that player did not play.

“You kind of feel like you’re coaching and playing Russian Roulette at the same time,” Bryant said. “We have kind of lucked out twice. The gun fired but there was no bullet in the chamber ... You’ve got to be thankful for every day you have. Even with a bunch of positive test results, at least we’ll be able to come back and play in the tournament.”

Per safety guidelines, teams with a player or coach who tests positive for the coronavirus cannot practice or play games for 14 days. If Western Dubuque is forced to quaratine, it would miss the rest of the regular season but still be able to participate in the postseason.

The Bobcats have a 5-5 record and feature probably the best player in the state in catcher-pitcher Calvin Harris, recently named The Gazette’s Male Athlete of the Year.

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

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