Prep Baseball

Jayden Kies delivers clutch hit to propel Iowa City Regina to state baseball semifinals

Schooley with 3 RBIs, Gahan earns victory to drop Treynor in quarterfinal rematch

DES MOINES — Jayden Kies likes to keep things simple, preventing moments from getting too big.

When the Iowa City Regina senior stepped to the plate at a crucial point of the game Monday, he used that approach to stay composed.

“I’m really good at staying dumb,” Kies said. “Like, ‘who cares.” Next pitch. Go pitch to pitch. I’m pretty good at that. It just feels like 0-0 every time.”

Kies laced a two-run single with a full count, giving the top-seeded Regals the lead for good and helping them to a 6-1 victory over Treynor in the Class 2A state baseball quarterfinal Monday in front of a crowd of 1,033 at Principal Park.

Regina (28-7) returns to the semifinals for the second straight season, facing No. 4 seed Van Meter (30-8) Thursday.

“It feels great to be back in the state semifinals and two games away from a state championship,” Regina senior Ryne Schooley said. “This year, we’re going to have a different approach to it. We’ve been there before.”

Regina trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth. The Regals were a strike away from stranding their sixth runner of the game and squandering a great opportunity to score when Blake Berns and Mitch Gahan opened the inning with consecutive singles.

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Regina loaded the bases after a sacrifice and Nick Brandt reaching on a dropped third strike as the catcher focused on holding Berns at third. Kies, who bats ninth and struck out looking his first at-bat, stepped in, took a deep breath and flashed a wry smile as his teammates tried to stay loose.

“Those guys were just yelling dumb stuff,” Kies said. “I kind of had a smirk on my face and I think that helped. Just trying to ease the pressure.”

Kies fell behind in the count 1-2, battling to make it 3-2. With the runners running on the pitch, Kies turned on a fastball for a base hit to left field, knifing through the hole between third base and shortstop.

“I was just doing a job for my boys,” Kies said. “I really didn’t get excited until I got back in the dugout.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t realize what actually happened.”

State baseball brackets

Principal Park in Des Moines is set to host the Iowa high school state baseball tournament again from July 20-28. All four championship games are scheduled for next Saturday.

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Regina claimed its first lead and momentum. Ryne Schooley followed with an RBI single to center for a 3-1 edge after four complete.

“That’s what turned the whole outcome of the game, Jayden getting that hit with two outs,” Regina Coach Jeff Pacha said. “If he overthinks that situation, it might be a whole different outcome.”

The Regals added insurance with a three-run sixth, including a two-run single from Schooley to score Brandt and Hunter Liebermann. Kies, who walked, scored the final run on an error.

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The production was more than enough for Gahan, who threw a complete game to improve to 9-2. Gahan scattered seven hits and struck out six. Gahan worked ahead in the count most of the game, using a high fastball and an effective slider.

“He pitched a heck of a game,” Kies said. “We just have to have to play defense behind them. We did a good job for that.”

Gahan was thrust into the ace role with an injury to Schooley, who threw a complete game in a win in last year’s quarterfinal against Treynor. Regina hasn’t skipped a beat with the crafty Gahan at the front of the rotation.

“I try not to think about it,” Gahan said. “My mindset from last year is the same. I know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want to add that pressure.”

The game had its share of bizarre that worked against Treynor (19-14). Brenden Dingus led off the third with a triple to the wall in left. When the ball was mishandled, he advanced to third. Dingus ran through a stop sign and rounded for home. When he stopped and turned back, Ryan Schott had reeled in the relay and tagged Dingus out.

The Cardinals had a runner picked off after a leadoff walk in the second. A leadoff single in the fifth was followed by a botched sacrifice and double play.

Regina avoided mistakes, playing an errorless defensive game with gems by Kies in center and Schott at third. The Regals have 10 seniors and have been here.

“I think experience is the biggest part of it and confidence level,” Pacha said. “Experience alone isn’t going to get the job done. You still have to show up and win the game. Experience is a huge part of it.

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“We didn’t panic. Experience plays a big factor in the ability to stay in the moment, because it’s a lot harder to do than talk about it.”

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

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