DES MOINES – They’ll be going back to West Des Moines Dowling High School Friday afternoon. No doubt about that.
“We won’t change a thing,” said Western Dubuque Coach Casey Bryant. “We’re crazy baseball people. We’re superstitious.”
Nor should the Western Dubuque Bobcats do anything differently, the way they played in their Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal. They scored seven times on eight hits in the first inning and went on to mercy rule Harlan, 12-1, in five innings at Principal Park.
What an offensive display for a club that has routinely taken batting practice prior to every postseason game. That included Tuesday, when they were at Dowling.
They’ll be going back prior to their noon semifinal against top-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes (34-2).
“Hitting is contagious,” said Western Dubuque’s Tyson Massey. “Once you see other people hitting, you feel like you can, too.”
Harlan (27-8) scored a run in the top of the first but Western Dubuque (35-9) sent 12 to the plate in the bottom half. All eight Bobcats hits were singles, including five in a row with two outs.
They weren’t all hard hit, mind you, but they found holes. Nick Tuttle had the pleasure of getting two singles in the same inning.
“Our approach is to put the ball in play,” said WD’s Hunter Westhoff, who had the only two-run hit in the inning. “Make the pitcher work and put pressure on the defense. If we can do that, good things will happen.”
They did that, and good things happened.
“They’re a good hitting team, and I wasn’t on my game today,” said Harlan starting pitcher Josh Bruck, who lasted just two-thirds of an inning. “I kept a lot of offspeed pitches up in the zone.”
WD finished with 14 hits, scoring twice in the second inning, once in the third and twice more in the fourth. Each team committed four errors.
Harlan was runner-up to Solon at last year’s 3A tournament, but there was an abrupt end to its season this time.
“We swung the bats in batting practice today like we were ready to go,” Bryant said. “I was pretty excited after seeing that. We had a little fortune, had two outs and some balls that found holes. But we strung together quite a few hits. When you do that, you’re going to score runs against anybody.”
Here is the game boxscore: