North Liberty Leader
DES MOINES– The No. 6-seeded SE Polk Rams took the Class 4A State Baseball Championship with a 2-0 win over No. 4-seeded Iowa City West Saturday night, Aug. 2, at Principal Park in Des Moines. With the upset, the Rams took their first state title in only their third state tournament appearance.
For Charlie Stumpff and his West High Trojans, it was another case of, “what might’ve been” as once again the title eluded them despite a strong tournament run.
West vs. Dowling
The Trojans opened the tournament campaign by snapping a 2-2 tie with West Des Moines Dowling in the quarterfinal round Wednesday, July 30, and taking a 4-2 win. West put two runs on the scoreboard in the third as Tyus Adkins singled in Grant Ewing and Kevin DeLaney came home while courtesy runner Jacob Verry was caught in a run-down between first and second. An interference call on Dowling put Verry safely on second despite getting tagged in no-man’s land.
The Maroons knotted the game with two runs in the fifth.
In the sixth, Devin Raffensperger drove a long ball to the left field fence, good for a triple.
“Raffensperger’s been money all year,” Stumpff said after the game. “You know, that one’s way out at our place, we’ve been kidding him to get in the weight room, but he’s an outstanding hitter.” Nate Boland drove Raffensperger home with a single. “Boland is just an outstanding athlete, he was just quarterback in the Shrine game, he’s not gonna be afraid of a big moment. He came up with a big hit.”
Stumpff then dipped into his bag of tricks and put freshman Izaya Ono-Fullard in as a pinch hitter. Ono-Fullard executed a textbook-perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Boland. Next, sophomore Spencer Wiskus entered the line up and nailed an RBI double to score Boland.
“We had a couple of young guys get their first varsity at-bats, ‘we’ll put you in just for fun,’” Stumpff said. “Ono-Fullard gets the bunt down, Wiskus’ first varsity bat gets a double… that’s just crazy for them to come through in that kind of situation.” It was part strategy, Stumpff explained, and a little bit of a gamble. “You had a lead, so you had a little house money to play with, so we just ran with it.”
The Trojans put up five hits from DeLaney, Adkins, Raffensperger, Boland and Wiskus. Adkins pitched the first five innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out four. Collins Marine put in 2/3 of an inning giving up one hit and walking one before Nick Gallagher took the mound to close the deal for West. Gallagher threw the final 1 1/3 innings denying the Maroons any hits and striking out two.
West vs. Johnston
The Trojans’ win over Dowling advanced them to the semifinal round on Friday, Aug. 1, where they found the Johnston Dragons attempting to defend their 2013 championship. The Dragons entered the tourney as the No.8 seed with a 22-16 record and faced No. 1 Waukee (35-4) in the opening round. A six-run inning pushed the Dragons to the lead and upset win while setting the stage for a meeting with the Trojans.
Stumpff’s crew turned into dragon slayers after overcoming a 6-1 deficit with their own six-run inning for a 7-6 win.
The Dragons put up two runs in the first and held the Trojans scoreless until the fifth when Ewing hit a sacrifice to score Verry, who was running for Gallagher. Johnston came back with four runs in the sixth, seemingly putting the game out of reach and harkening back to their win over Waukee.
But Charlie’s boys were ready to gamble again. DeLaney drove in Gallagher with a single, Adkins singled to bring in Ewing, Declan Doyle doubled to score DeLaney, Hatzky walked to load the bases and bring in Adkins, Joe Scott walked bringing in Verry (running for Doyle), and Gallagher belted out an RBI single to score Raffensperger and the winning run. The rally was helped by three walks, a hit by pitch and four hits. Gallagher started the rally by taking one for the team, and ended it with the RBI single.
The Dragons employed four pitchers in the final inning in an effort to thwart West.
The Trojans had eight hits from DeLaney (3), Adkins, Doyle, and Gallagher (3). Gallagher worked five innings on the mound giving up two hits and four runs (all earned), walking six and striking out four. Collins Marine had one inning of work giving up two hits and two earned runs while walking two and retiring one. Nick Spiess took the win with one inning giving up only one hit.
The Dragons retired with a 23-17 record while the Trojans celebrated their 34th win.
West vs. SE Polk
The Rams put up two runs in the first inning, and then held off the Trojans for a 2-0 shut out win Saturday, Aug 1, in the 4A championship. The Trojans tried to challenge, but left seven men stranded and were out-hit nine to four in the contest. Raffensperger, Scott and Gallagher (2) got the hits for West.
Adkins worked all seven innings, giving up nine hits and two earned runs. He walked nobody and struck out three.
The Trojans finished the season with a 34-10 record in their eighth state tournament appearance and picked up their second runner-up trophy.
Stumpff and Trojan Nation said goodbye to seniors Adkins, Brock Hatzky, Tanner Hakert, Ewing, Marine, Verry, Casey Dahm, Keon Hunt, Gallagher, Boland, Spiess, Doyle, Nick Kurth and Raffensperger.