IOWA CITY — The third time could be the charm.
The past two seasons have found the West High Trojans bringing home the Class 4A Runner-Up banner rather than a baseball State Championship. Defeating rival City High Wednesday evening punched the Trojans’ ticket to Des Moines for another shot at the top.
City has been something of a punching bag for the Trojans this season, as the men in green spanked City each of three outings, and beat the Little Hawks badly enough to invoke the ten-run mercy rule twice.
Wednesday, the Hawks were the “home team” on West’s diamond by virtue of a coin toss. West, as the visiting team, came up to bat first. Aaron Peller led-off for the Trojans with a double off the right field fence that could’ve been a homer had the fence been a little lower. Nate Ewing singled to advance Peller, who scored on a Ryan Siems sacrifice fly. City answered with a run in the bottom of the inning for the tie.
Luke Crimmins walked in the second inning, stole second and made it to third on a wild pitch. Leo Franz smacked a double off of a high fast ball scoring Crimmins in the process. Franz’s hit also came very close to being a home run but for the fence height. City again tied the game in their half of the inning with a run, but it could’ve been much worse as the Little Hawks had the bases loaded.
In the fourth, pitcher Jeremy Cronk walked and had Ezra Reiners take his place as the courtesy runner. Crimmins put up a base hit on a long hit deep to center field, and Connor Schreck loaded up the bases with his own shot to center field. Franz popped-up, but none of the runners were able to advance. On a 3-2 count, Peller hit himself in the right foot, but after a few moments of shaking it off, he was back at the plate. The senior outfielder then blasted out a three-run RBI double for a 5-2 lead. Ewing was up next and brought Peller home with an RBI double of his own. Ryan Rumpf singled to bring in Ewing and West was up 7-2.
Coach Charlie Stumpff brought Will Ross to the mound to replace Cronk with two outs and two men on in the bottom of the fifth. Ross, the team leader in strike-outs, threw one pitch and got one out to end the inning.
Schreck singled to start the sixth and made second base on a wild pitch. Reiners came in for Schreck and came home on a Ewing RBI single with extra base. Rumpf sent the ball out of the park for a two-run homer giving the Trojans the 10-2 lead. Nick Grimsman walked as did Spence Bonner. City High changed pitchers, and the new man on the mound immediately walked Cronk for bases loaded with two outs. However, the game ending runs never materialized for West.
Rumpf, who is still recovering from injury, took the mound in the bottom of the sixth and gave up a double to left field and an RBI single. Another RBI double made it 10-4.
Schreck was on the mound for the bottom of the seventh, going three up, three down for the win.
Peller, a graduated senior put the game into perspective,“They’re our rivals, we love beating them. That’s what it comes down to.” As for going back to Des Moines, “That’s been our goal all year, take it all the way and win it.”
The Trojans will face Southeast Polk, both with a 31-10 record, at noon on Wednesday, July 27 in Principle Park in Des Moines. A West win means a 6 p.m. Semifinal round game on Friday, June 29 with the Championship settled at 8 p.m. on Saturday.