DES MOINES — They played really late, but the Iowa City West Trojans went about deciding the outcome of their Class 4A state baseball quarterfinal really early.
West scored five times in the bottom of the first inning and steamrolled Cedar Rapids Washington, 12-2, in a six-inning game that didn’t begin until 10:40 p.m. due to weather delays and didn’t end until 12:43 a.m. Thursday morning. That’s the latest game in state tournament history.
The Trojans (32-8) will play either West Des Moines Dowling or Mason City in a 4A semifinal Friday at 5 p.m. Dowling and Mason City play their quarterfinal Thursday morning at 9.
“This is way past my bedtime,” said West Coach Charlie Stumpff. “(Assistant) Coach (Tom) Cronk fed me a little coffee while we were waiting. It’ll be easy for me to sleep on the bus, no matter what these guys are doing. Late night, if you’re going to be up this late, (winning) makes for a good bus ride back. We don’t have to be back until Friday. The guys will be fine. We’d have stayed another two hours if we needed to.”
West has lost in the championship game the previous three years and dearly wants to finally get Stumpff (who has 726 career victories) a title. It looks poised to, if this one was any indication.
The Trojans took advantage of uncharacteristic wildness from Washington starting pitcher Jacob Bockenstedt and a crucial fielding error to post an immediate crooked number. Bockenstedt had walked only 10 in 50-plus innings coming into this game, but walked two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in a 40-pitch first.
Washington (24-16) still could have gotten out of its mess with only one run scoring, but shortstop Drew Christensen bobbled a grounder and threw late to second base for a potential forceout. That scored a second West run, with Braden Houston following with a three-run double to right-center field for a 5-0 lead.
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“They came out and got some runs early, got us back on our heels,” said Washington Coach Scott Brune. “That’s the difference in the game. Way too many free baserunners on our end, and we didn’t make the plays we needed to make. They did.”
“Definitely, we came out nervous,” said Washington’s Drew Dostal. “The nerves, the stage just got to us. We put them on, they got easy bases, and we were playing on our heels.”
West’s starting pitcher, Houston struck out eight in five innings. He allowed three hits and two walks, improving his season record to 9-1.
“I’d say my pitching,” Houston said, when asked if he preferred what he did on the mound or the plate better. “I don’t need to hit for us to win. As long as I do my job pitching, our team will demolish the ball. They always do. That’s what we’re known for.”
“We were worried they were going to wiggle out of things there,” Stumpff said. “We had great at-bats, made him throw a lot of pitches.”
The Trojans scored a sixth run in the second inning on an Izaya Ono-Fullard RBI double and put up three more runs in the fourth: on a two-run double from Dane Randall and RBI infield hit by Nate Disterhoft. Washington scored twice in the sixth to break the shutout.
Christensen scored the first of those two runs and went 3-for-3 in the game. Nolan Cavanaugh had Wash’s only RBI, that on a double.
West scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to end the game via mercy rule. Ono-Fullard had a solo home run to left field, with Logan Sims ending things with a two-out, two-run triple to right-center field.
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These teams played a Mississippi Valley Conference double-header in the regular season, splitting it. But this one was no contest.
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