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So close.... but no title

Rams deny Trojans, and West High falls 6-2 to Southeast Polk in state championship bid
John Millmeyer holds up the Class 4A State Runner-Up trophy as he and his fellow West High Trojans return to the dugout to pack up for the somber bus ride home after losing 6-2 to the Rams of Southeast Polk in the state championship game. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

DES MOINES– For the second year in a row, the Iowa City West High Trojans faced the Rams of Southeast Polk in the Class 4A State Championship baseball game, and for the second year in a row, the Rams walked away with the championship trophy.
West fell 6-2 to the Rams in the Class 4A Championship game on Saturday, Aug. 1, at Principal Park in Des Moines. It was the ninth state appearance for the team and the fourth state runner-up title. The Trojans finished second in 2009, 2010 and 2014; the closest the program has come to a championship.
The Rams came out of the dugout and put four runs on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. West mustered up one run in the bottom of the inning on a Connor McCaffery RBI single. However, the Rams made it 5-1 in the top of the second.
A frightening sight shocked fans and players alike in the top of the third as West pitcher Shane Sturtz took a line drive to the head; causing him to collapse by the mound. Athletic trainers and the West High coaching staff were quickly at his side evaluating his condition, and after a few tense minutes, Sturtz sat up and was assisted in walking off the field. After further evaluation in the Trojan dugout, Sturtz was assisted to a utility vehicle to a standing ovation from the fans, and driven off the field. Shortly after, he was transported by ambulance to a Des Moines-area hospital for further examination.
In the fourth inning Tanner Lohaus belted out an RBI triple to narrow the Rams’ lead to 5-2. A sixth run in the sixth inning from the Rams all but sealed the Trojans’ fate.
“You tell them you’re real proud of them… and they did everything, they just didn’t play quite well enough today,” West High coach Charlie Stumpff said. “Today is a great example of what we did all year,” he added. “We didn’t have a good first inning, Shane (Sturtz) comes in (replacing Austin Miller on the mound) and gets us out of a jam in that inning; and then (Nate) Barnes comes in under a tough situation (replacing the injured Sturtz) and gets out of that.” Zach McLean relieved Barnes with bases loaded. “He comes in, gets one pitch,” Stumpff said. “Z (Izaya Ono-Fullard) comes in and Johnny Millmeyer (replaces him at third base), hasn’t played third base (Sturtz’ usual assignment) and he gets a ball.”
What the team will remember, Stumpff said, is “A really neat group of kids that when called upon, they just stepped up and did a good job.”
The coach said their heads were up high, and tipped his hat to the Rams. “They’re just playing great, great baseball right now,” he said.
The tournament campaign started with the Trojans shelling the Scarlets of Des Moines East 11-3 in a Class 4A quarterfinal game on Wednesday, July 29. The climb to the top got a little steeper in the semifinal round as West took on MVC rival Cedar Rapids Kennedy, dispatching the Cougars 5-2 and setting the table for a rematch with the Rams.
West ended the season at 33-12 overall with Southeast Polk’s record at 32-13. The Trojans lose six seniors to graduation: Kevin DeLaney, Sturtz, Alex Aller, Millmeyer and Joe Scott.