Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – The same toughness, never say die attitude and late-game heroics that City High rode to its first state tournament appearance in 17 years showed up again for the Little Hawks in Des Moines.
It just wasn’t quite enough to send City High to the semifinals.
City High battled back from an early four-run deficit but saw its comeback turn to heartbreak as fourth-ranked Dubuque Hempstead scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in a walk-off 7-6 win in a Class 4A state quarterfinal at Principal Park in Des Moines.
It was the second walk-off win of the season for Hempstead (16-1) over City High and sends the Mustangs into the 4A semifinals on Friday against second-ranked Ankeny (20-8) which defeated Pleasant Valley 5-4 in the final 4A quarterfinal.
“This was a totally different ending but it’s the second time we got walked off against them this season, I can’t even really process it,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “I’m definitely not disappointed in the effort and the grind and grit from our kids.”
Just as it had in each of its two substate contests City High fell into an early hole.
And just as they did in both of those wins over Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Linn-Mar the Little Hawks kept battling.
City High scored five unanswered runs to erase a 5-1 deficit after two innings and took a 6-5 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh.
“After inning two I think we got down a little bit but we brought everyone together and we said we are going to come back and win this game,” City High senior Garrett Bormann said. “We strung some hits together, scored a couple runs and did all we could. We were confident we were going to come back.”
City High was one out away from the state semifinal.
Senior Reese Hayden, who was brilliant in relief for the third consecutive postseason game, got Dane Schope to fly out to left to open the inning.
After a one-out walk to Michael Garrett leadoff hitter and North Carolina recruit Kellen Strohmeyer drove a fly ball to right field that was caught by Noah Kabat on the warning track for the second out.
Hayden hit Zach Sabers with a pitch putting two runners on and ending the day for the senior who had a second consecutive stellar relief outing holding the top-hitting team in Class 4A to four runs on seven hits in six innings.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge, I knew I had to paint that outside corner because they crush balls inside,” Hayden said. “I was pretty ready coming in that early this time but I knew it would be a challenge.”
Gable Mitchell came on to replace Hayden and got Andrue Henry to hit a towering fly ball to left field that dropped for a double scoring both runs.
“The only thought in my mind was that it was going to be caught and the game was going to be over,” Hempstead coach Jeff Rapp said. “We had an ugly game with them early in the year where we committed five errors and had to rely on a Strohmeyer walkoff home run to win that one. We had four errors today and played really ugly defense and just found a way at the end.”
City High took an early 1-0 lead when Bormann drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on consecutive ground balls by Carter Seaton and Gable Mitchell.
“That Carter Seaton at bat in the first inning was unreal, Bormann knows how to run bases and Gable came through just to get us going,” Mitchell said. “That is our style no question about it. We aren’t going to hit balls out of here very often but we are fast, we typically pick it really well and that’s just kind of who we are.”
Hempstead chased City High starter Cade Obermueller with three runs in the first and added two more in the second to take what seemed like a commanding 5-1 lead.
City High wouldn’t stop battling.
The Little Hawks were hitless through four innings against Henry and trailed 5-1 when the senior right-hander was lifted before the fifth.
Henry walked one and struck out four in four innings.
“We took that as disrespect, they thought we were out of the game,” Bormann said of Henry being removed. “We said we are going to roll with this and show them we weren’t done.”
City High got a run in the fifth on three consecutive two-out singles by Hayden, Egan Smith and Bormann.
“We just tried to keep our energy up in the dugout and not think about the score really but instead just battle and compete and put some good at bats together,” Hayden said. “We just kept coming at them.”
City High got two more runs in the sixth when Mitchell led off with a single and Kolbe Schnoebelen drew a walk.
Both later scored on RBI groundouts by Joey Bouska and Obermueller.
The Little Hawks then took a 6-5 lead with two runs in the seventh.
Smith led off with a single and scored on a throwing error following a Seaton infield single.
Obermueller later drew a bases loaded walk to force in the go-ahead run.
“We just kept battling,” Brian Mitchell said. “In the middle of that game it did not look good and we finally got on a roll. We finally put everything else behind us and just started playing baseball.”
This time the lead didn’t last for City High as Hempstead used the late fly ball double from Henry to escape with the win.
It was the fifth one-run loss for City High which finished the season 11-9.
“I think we lost five games by one run so our record didn’t even indicate how good of a team this is,” Brian Mitchell said. “I’m just really proud of our kids and their effort and grit.”
Bormann had a hit, scored a run and drove in a run for City High and Mitchell had a hit, an RBI and scored twice.
City High 100 012 2 – 6 7 0
Dubuque Hempstead 320 000 2 – 7 9 4
W – Logan Runde L – Reese Hayden
2B – DH: Logan Runde, Max Pins, Andrue Henry
3B – DH: Kellen Strohmeyer