DES MOINES - It's simply been that kind of season.
Even when things appeared to be going well, that dark cloud of doom and gloom constantly hung over the Webster City baseball team this summer, so why should the postseason have been any different?
The upset was there for the taking Friday evening at Saydel High School, as WCHS took the lead in the second inning against ADM Adel and built its advantage to 8-5 heading into the seventh inning of a Class 3A District 14 semifinal.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
The expression on the face of Webster City catcher Doug Stoakes (right) says it all as ADM’s Kyle Herrick (14) slides into the plate and teammate Dylan Nelson starts to celebrate during the seventh inning on Friday in Des Moines. Herrick scored the winning run, as the Tigers rallied from an 8-5 deficit by plating 10 runs in the seventh en route to a 15-8 win over Webster City in a Class 3A District 14 semifinal at Saydel High School.
Two outs - just two stinkin' outs - are all that separated the Lynx from a stunning victory over the Tigers, the district's top seed.
And then that dark cloud rolled in.
ADM (24-14) unleashed the beast, reeling off nine hits and scoring a whopping 10 runs in its final at bat to rally by the Lynx (7-22), 15-8. Thirteen consecutive batters reached base in the top of the seventh, which lasted more than 30 minutes, and by the time it mercifully ended the Lynx knew their season was over.
ADM410 000 (10)- 15 13 0
Webster City421 001 0- 8 8 7
Alec Rash, Tyler Spencer (3), Dylan Nelson (4) and Logan Essy, Nelson (2), Cody Feller (4). Jonny Davis, Ben Mossman (7), Trey Tesdahl (7) and Doug Stoakes. W-Nelson. L-Mossman. 2B-ADM: Nelson, Rash. 3B-ADM: Lucas Thompson. HR-ADM: Nelson. RBI-ADM: Nelson (4), Spencer, Rash (3), Trae Eddie, Jesse Bennett, Feller; WC: Stoakes (2), Nelson Ball, Garrett Gourley.
"This is the way the season has gone, this is the way the last three years have gone," WCHS head coach Seth McGrane said. "The kids deserved better because they gave a hell of an effort. I just feel bad for all of the kids because this would have been pretty special to get the upset."
Lucas Thompson and Dylan Nelson ignited the Tigers' seventh-inning surge with a triple and single, respectively, with one out. That's when McGrane opted to give starting pitcher Jonny Davis the hook in favor of reliever Ben Mossman, and the moved turned out to be disastrous.
ADM shelled Mossman for five consecutive hits, highlighted by a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double to right-center field by Alec Rash that gave the Tigers a 9-8 lead - their first advantage since the top of the second.
Trey Tesdahl took over for Mossman later in the seventh, but didn't fare much better. He allowed three hits, including a three-run bomb over the left-field fence by Nelson to increase the Tigers' cushion to seven runs.
Davis gave up just six hits and two earned runs over 61?3 innings. Mossman and Tesdahl combined to allow seven hits and eight earned runs.
"They hit Ben extremely hard and they hit Trey extremely hard, and that's on me," McGrane said. "That was my call to go to Ben, and I know I'll second-guess it the rest of my life, but we thought the right move was to go to Ben. It just didn't work out."
ADM got it rolling early on, scoring four unearned runs courtesy of four Lynx errors - they finished the game with seven - in the first inning.
And with Rash - a 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander who was the second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies last month - on the mound, most spectators probably thought that was ballgame.
They were wrong.
WCHS touched Rash for four earned runs in the first inning and two more in the second to take a 6-5 lead. Davis, Doug Stoakes and Garrett Gourley all roped base hits in the first, and Tesdahl added a second-inning single. Stoakes drove in two runs during the early spurt, Gourley one.
Rash - who spurned the Phillies' signing bonus offer, reportedly in the ballpark of $500,000, to instead attend the University of Missouri on a baseball scholarship next year - was yanked after two subpar innings in which he allowed four hits. He walked three, hit one batter and threw four wild pitches against just two strikeouts. The six earned runs allowed were one more than he'd given up the entire season leading up to the postseason.
"That's as well as we've hit against as good a pitcher as we've seen," McGrane said. "The kids stepped up to the plate, accepted the challenge and put the ball in play, and that's a credit to how hard they work every day in practice."
Nelson Ball laced an RBI single off Tyler Spencer in the third, and Davis raced to the plate on a wild pitch in the sixth to give WCHS the 8-5 lead.
"That was a huge insurance run Jon scored and we were excited to get that, but at the same time we knew they had a tough lineup," McGrane said.
Nelson went 4-for-5 at the dish with four RBIs and four runs scored for the Tigers, who tallied 13 hits in all. Grant Goeden and Trae Eddie both sprayed two hits.
Nelson went the final four innings on the bump to secure the win. He struck out five, and allowed just three hits and one earned run.
Stoakes and Tesdahl had two hits each for the Lynx, who were forced to say goodbye to six seniors - Davis, Gourley, Sam Mossman, Caleb Crouthamel, Cody Jondal and Brandon Carlson.
"I've coached most of those kids for five years, and I'm awfully proud of them," McGrane said of his seniors. "They've meant a lot to our program, and I'm a better person after having coached them for five years."
In addition to his pitching exploits, Davis - a multiple-time all-North Central Conference section - went 1-for-3 and scored two runs in his final game.
"It's going to be hard to say goodbye to Jon," McGrane said. "He's the best competitor I've ever seen, and he kept us in it (Friday night). He pitched great."
ADM advanced to face Saydel in the district final tonight back on the Eagles' home diamond. Saydel knocked out Nevada, 12-3, in the other district semifinal on Friday.