Stellar Late-season Run For Second-ranked City High Stopped by West Des Moines Dowling in Class 4A Semifinals
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IOWA CITY – A goal for every graduating class is to leave the program in a better place.
The seniors on the City High roster did exactly that lifting the Little Hawks to new heights in 2022 with the most wins for the program in more than a decade and the first state semifinal appearance since 2003.
All of that success is part of what made the end for those 12 City High seniors on Thursday evening so difficult.
Seventh-ranked West Des Moines Dowling (27-14) scored two runs in the top of the first inning and never trailed in a 6-4 win over second-ranked City High in a Class 4A state semifinal at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
“I have no doubt we left it in a better place, there is no doubt about that,” City High senior Carter Seaton said. “But that makes it very hard to leave because we felt like we were playing our best ball this week.”
There is no debating City High had been among the best teams in the state for the entire season and especially over the last several weeks.
City High (32-9) had an 11-game winning streak stopped with the loss on Thursday, it’s first since a 9-5 loss to 3A state finalist Western Dubuque on June 24.
The Little Hawks didn’t play their best brand of baseball on Thursday and West Des Moines Dowling was waiting to take advantage.
The Maroons jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Drew Larson came up with a two-out RBI single.
“I think we were a little more tight tonight,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “We weren’t as sharp defensively from the get go and I think that put us on our heels.”
City High battled back all game but couldn’t quite pull even.
City High got a run in the second on an RBI single by senior Gavin Koch but the Maroons got a run back in the third.
Trailing 4-1 in the fifth City High got a run back but the Maroons again followed with a run in the sixth.
Dowling starter Jake English who entered with a 5.53 ERA in 25 1/3 innings allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits and struck out six in five innings.
“It just felt like we couldn’t quite get even,” Mitchell said. “They did a really nice job. That kid worked fast and had good tempo and he dictated a lot of things. We never got any bunts going, and we weren’t like we normally are.”
Trailing 5-2 City High got back into the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
A leadoff walk to Cade Obermueller and a double by Alek Knudtson put runners on second and third with no out.
Pinch hitter DJ Hodges hit a hard ground ball to first that Dowling first baseman George Nahas threw wildly to home allowing another run to score.
“We are scrappy, we fight and we aren’t going to give up,” Knudtson said. “It showed all year we’ve came back in tough spots and pulled through and won and today the breaks weren’t going our way.”
With runners on second and third with no out Dowling when to the sophomore lefty Larson to close out the game.
Larson struck out Koch swinging and caught a break when a wild pitch caromed off the backstop allowing the Maroons to catch Knudtson at home trying to score.
City High got to 5-4 on a two-out RBI single by Talon Young to right field but couldn’t get anything else off Larson who struck out three in two innings to secure the save.
“We waited a little to long,” Seaton said. “They went to Larson really quick, they didn’t string it out with their starter very long and we didn’t jump on him.”
The lose ended what was one of the most success seasons in the history of the storied City High baseball program.
“They put so much time and effort into this sport,” Mitchell said. “They give us so much more than we could ever give them as a coach and that’s really hard.”
WDM Dowling 201 101 1 – 6 12 2
City High 010 012 0 – 4 6 3
W – Jake English L – Alex Knudtson SV – Blake Larson
2B – WDD: Caden Sanders, Blake Larson, Blake Anderson. ICH: Alex Knudtson