Your Prep Sports
Half of the state tournament teams in the state are set.
Substate finals in the two smallest classes on Tuesday determined the state tournament fields for 1A and 2A which will be held next week in Carroll.
On Wednesday the final 16 state tournament qualifiers will be determined with substate finals in Classes 3A and 4A.
Before first pitches get tossed tonight and teams begin to secure their spots at the 3A and 4A state tournaments scheduled to run July 28-31 at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City we take a quick look at the two substate finals featuring Your Prep Sports area teams.
Class 4A, Substate 6
No. 10 City High (29-13) at Ottumwa (29-9)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Legion Memorial Field in Ottumwa
Top players: City High – Gable Mitchell, Jr., SS, .351 BA, 30 RBI, 24 BB; Carter Seaton, Jr., 2B, .357 BA, 27 RBI, 32 Runs. Ottumwa – Jesus Jaime, Sr., 3B, .524 BA, 7 HR, 35 RBI; Mitch Wood, Sr., SS, .467 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI.
About the Bulldogs: Ottumwa has already enjoyed its most successful season in more than a decade but could put the finishing touches on a stellar campaign with the program’s first trip to the state tournament since 2006.
The Bulldogs have scuffled a bit down the stretch, dropping four of their final five regular season games before posting a 1-0 win over Cedar Rapids Washington in the substate 6 opener last Friday.
Ottumwa has been solid offensively this season averaging 8.5 runs per game but is putting up just 2.7 runs per game over its last six games.
Seniors Jesus Jaime (.524, 7 HR) and Mitch Wood (.467, 7 HR) do most of the damage in the middle of the Bulldog order though senior Trae Swartz is hitting .366 with six home runs and 24 RBI.
Seniors Colton McKinnon and Adam Denniston have been the anchors of a solid Bulldog pitching rotation.
McKinnon is 6-0 with a .46 ERA in 30 1/3 innings while Denniston is 4-1 and has a 1.39 ERA in a team-high 35 1/3 innings.
About the Little Hawks: City High snapped a long state tournament drought last season with its first appearance since 2003 and now the Little Hawks are seeking a second straight in a season when the 4A state tournament will be held in Iowa City.
The Little Hawks have been solid all season and pulled out of a late-season funk in which they lost three of four games all by one run with a pair of impressive postseason wins.
City High blanked Davenport North 9-0 in its substate opener and scored seven unanswered runs in a 7-2 win over a 27-win Burlington squad on Monday.
Despite playing an extra postseason game as the two seed compared to top-seeded Ottumwa the Little Hawks find themselves in a good position pitching wise thanks to a deep and talented collection of arms.,
City High has four players with at least 31 innings pitched this season and all four have an ERA under 2.50.
Sophomore Alex Knudtson was excellent in the semifinal win on Monday leaving a collection of juniors John Klosterman (4-2, 1.64 ERA), Gavin Koch (3-2, 1.81 ERA), Cade Obermueller (4-1, 1.65 ERA), Carter Seaton (2-2, 2.48) and Jay Kennedy (2-4, 5.31 ERA) all potential available.
What to watch: The success for City High the past two seasons has been centered around pitching and defense.
While that will always be the case for this City High team the Little Hawks have been strong offensively in a pair of postseason wins.
City High is hitting .351 as a team in wins over Davenport North and Burlington while averaging eight runs per game.
The key for the City High lineup is depth.
Seven different players had a hit in the opening-round win over Davenport North and eight Little Hawks recorded a hit against Burlington.
On the season seven every-day players are bating .319 or above for City High which will be a key against an Ottumwa pitching staff that has been solid.
Class 3A, Substate 5
No. 4 Cedar Rapids Xavier (25-12) at No. 7 Solon (29-11)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Top players: Solon – Blake Timmons, Soph., 2B, .417 BA, 57 Runs, 27 RBI; Kinnick Pusteoska, Jr., 1B, .420 BA, 6 HR, 51 RBI. Cedar Rapids Xavier – Alex Neal, Jr., P, .357 BA, 15 EBH, 37 RBI; Jack Lux, Sr., SS, .402 BA, 3 HR, 25 RBI.
About the Saints: The Class 3A state champs in 2019, Cedar Rapids Xavier is seeking a second trip to state in three seasons after being bounced in the substate semifinals last year.
The Saints have been humming of late, winning eight of their last nine after a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Bondurant-Farrar in the substate semifinals.
Over its last nine games Xavier is holding opponents to 2.6 runs per game while picking up wins over 3A fifth-ranked Dubuque Wahlert, 4A No. 6 Dubuque Hempstead, 4A No. 7 Cedar Rapids Prairie and Solon.
Junior Alex Neal is expected to get the start for the Saints on Wednesday and is one of the top pitches in Class 3A.
Neal is 7-0 on the season with a 1.34 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings this season after fanning 13 in a two-hit shutout of Oskaloosa in the substate quarterfinals on Friday.
About the Spartans: Solon is seeking its first state tournament appearance since 2018 after falling in the substate finals two years ago and making a semifinal exit last season.
The Spartans bring a four-game winning streak in Wednesday’s substate final and have outscored a pair of postseason opponents 19-2.
A .336 hitting team on the season, Solon is batting just .288 as a team in a pair of postseason wins but has gotten back-to-back strong pitching performances in its two substate wins.
In 12 postseason innings Solon starters Blake Timmons and Brayden Rickertsen have combined to allow just five hits and four walks while striking out 13.
A balanced and potent Solon lineup features seven full-time starters hitting over .315 led by junior Kinnick Pusteoska (.420, 6 HR) and sophomore Blake Timmons (.417, 57 runs).
Senior Ben Cusick (.384) and freshmen Brett White (.348) and Gehrig Turner (.331) are all hitting over .330 this season.
What to watch: The Substate 5 final is a winner-take-all rematch of a regular season matchup won by Xavier 14-2 in five innings just more than two weeks ago.
Xavier outhit Solon 10 to 5 in the first meeting but the Saints benefitted from 11 walks from Solon pitchers.
The matchup to watch on Wednesday is a Solon lineup that ranks as one of the best in Class 3A against the powerful pitching of Xavier.
Solon enters the substate final with a .336 team batting average which ranks fifth in 3A and second in 3A with 353 runs, average more than 8.8 runs per game.
Led by Neal the Xavier pitching staff has been excellent all season posting a 2.86 team ERA on the season.