Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – West High has picked a perfect time of year to flash a ‘never say die’ attitude.
Three days after rallying from a 7-2 deficit in the sixth inning of a 9-7 victory in their regular-season finale at Western Dubuque, the Trojans stared down another shortfall in their opening-round substate game.
This time, the resulting explosion was even more robust.
“Total team effort and great (testament) to their resiliency,” longtime West High coach Charlie Stumpff said after the Trojans scored the final 13 runs of the game and routed Cedar Rapids Washington, 13-4, in a Class 4A first round substate prep baseball game Friday night at West High School. “They just keep playing hard and you tip your hat to our guys. They are tough guys.”
Washington (18-16) scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings for a 4-0 advantage as West High struggled to get to Warriors’ left-handed starting pitcher Jabari Dobbs.
The second time through its batting lineup, West High began to make some headway.
The Trojans got within a run at 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning by scoring via a Washington throwing error, a wild pitch and a base runner sprinting home while his teammate was caught in a rundown between first and second base.
“It was awesome,” West High junior Mitch Frey said. “A lot of guys were talking, ‘We can hit this guy. We can get the bats going on this guy.’ When we did, it gave us the confidence we needed for that game to just start hitting the ball. It felt great.”
While the West High offense began to rally, senior pitcher Nathan Stephens was tasked with preventing any further damage from Cedar Rapids Washington.
Stephens did just that, entering the game with two outs in the top of the fourth inning and West High down, 4-0.
He allowed just one hit with no walks and three strikeouts over the next 2 1/3 scoreless frames.
“I think it was just the intensity that I brought and that we also brought from the dugout to kind of help me carry over through that,” Stephens said.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the floodgates opened.
West High sent 12 batters to the plate. The first eight scored.
Nine runs crossed the plate overall in the frame and suddenly the Trojans led, 12-4.
Frey gave his team the lead for good with a two-run single off Dobbs that scored Ben Hoefer from third base and Ryne Vander Leest from second.
“I was hunting the fastball there, but then down two strikes I was just trying to protect the plate,” said Frey, who collected two hits and scored three runs. “I saw the curve coming and I just got it right up the middle, right back at the pitcher and it was just awesome to hit. I was just glad I could battle with two strikes and put the ball in play. It worked out real great.”
Four batters later, junior Carter Freidhof drove in two more runs with a single.
Senior Cale Adkins and junior Aiden Van Iddekinge reached base four times apiece.
Van Iddekinge and Adkins’ courtesy runner, senior Nate Gudenkauf, each scored two runs.
Winners of five games in a row, West High (20-19) will await the victor of Saturday’s game between Waterloo East and Linn-Mar, which was postponed due to weather.
Should Waterloo East prevail, the Trojans would host a substate semifinal game on Monday. If Linn-Mar wins, the game will be in Marion.
“In baseball, it is a weird thing,” Stumpff said. “We’re not working on what the other team’s offensive plays are. It is not like football, we don’t have to scheme. I tell the guys they’re lucky, ‘You don’t have to scheme because I am not smart enough to do that.’ So, we just want guys swinging the bat, catching, feel good. It is all the same. It never ends. Throw strikes.”
CR Washington 002 200 0 – 4
West High 000 391 x – 13
W – Nathan Stephens L – Jabari Dobbs