ON THE DOORSTEP: NO. 6 LYNX IN FIRST SUBSTATE FINAL SINCE 2008
Rattenborg brilliant on mound, McKinney ignites offense in semifinal shutout of Lions
WEBSTER CITY — Chase Rattenborg struck out the side in the seventh inning to cap unquestionably the best pitching performance of his career at Lynx Field Monday night, but he didn’t celebrate, not immediately anyway.
Before joining his Webster City teammates in the postgame huddle, Rattenborg left the diamond to check on his girlfriend, Grace Hoversten. Standing outside the fence along the first-base line, Hoversten was struck in the face with a line-drive foul ball in the bottom of the sixth.
Who hit the liner that left seam imprints on her chin? It was Rattenborg, of course.
“Oh man, I felt so bad,” Rattenborg said. “I just told her I was sorry and I had to get out there to make sure she was OK.”
Well played, young man.
Other than that freak mishap, the night couldn’t have gone better for Rattenborg and sixth-ranked WCHS (26-1), as it advanced to the Class 3A substate final round for the first time since 2008 with a Substate 2 semifinal win over North Central Conference rival Clear Lake, 4-0.
Rattenborg handcuffed the Lions en route to a complete-game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts, and lead-off hitter Ty McKinney supplied the offensive juice with a pair of doubles and runs scored to propel WCHS (26-1) into tonight’s substate final against Waverly-Shell Rock (32-7) at Lynx Field.
The Lynx had lost in the substate semifinal round in each of the previous five seasons.
Rattenborg was simply filthy. His fastball had an extra gear, his curveball had a big bend, and he also unleashed a slider that kept Clear Lake (17-15) guessing throughout. He took a perfect game into the fifth inning and allowed just three total base runners, only one of which reached second base.
He. Was. Flawless.
“That was fun to watch,” WCHS senior Tyler Olson, who had an RBI in the win, said. “When he got them 1-2-3 in the first, I knew it was going to be a good night. Then it was 4-5-6, and 7-8-9, and 10-11-12 … he was really good.”
Rattenborg improved to 7-0 on the season and he needed just 85 pitches to turn out the Lions’ lights. After surrendering a one-out single to Ben Loge and following it up with a walk in the sixth, he retired the final five batters, four of them on whiffs.
“I came in ready to throw,” Rattenborg said. “I woke up at 5:45 (a.m.), shaking and ready to play. I was amped up and it’s a lot easier to throw knowing you have one of the best defenses in 3A. So I trusted them, trusted my arm and got it done.”
WCHS played perfect defense behind the senior right-hander.
“It’s almost difficult to put into words what just happened, but you don’t want to say it’s a surprise because that’s a kid that’s been throwing with me since January,” WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe said of Rattenborg’s performance. “When wrestling practice was five hours long he was still like, ‘Yeah, I’ll go throw.’ It’s what he’s been doing for five months.”
Offensively, WCHS nibbled away at Clear Lake starter Carson Toebe with a run in the first inning, another in the second, yet another in the fourth and one more for good measure in the fifth. The Lynx had just five hits, but executed all of the little things to slowly pull away.
McKinney lit the fire in the bottom of the first with a blooper to center that turned into a double when Lions’ center fielder Austin Warnke was unable to make a diving catch. Following a Devon Stoakes sacrifice bunt, McKinney scored on a wild pitch to put the Lynx in front to stay.
McKinney roped another double in the fifth, this one a mammoth shot into the gap in left-center, and he scored two batters later on Olson’s deep sacrifice fly to right.
“I know he’s only a sophomore, but he’s well beyond his years,” Kehoe said of McKinney, who went 2 for 2 with a walk. “You sit there and ask a lot of the kid, but rather than shy away from the moment, he wants to be in it. I don’t know that there is a ceiling with him.”
A CJ Hisler lead-off single in the second eventually led to a 2-0 lead, as he scored on a double steal. Sean Carver walked to open the third and then scored on a Beau Klaver sacrifice fly to center.
Klaver added a second-inning single and Trey Lyons kicked in another base hit in the fourth.
Waverly-Shell Rock advanced to tonight’s 7 p.m. substate final with a 4-1 semifinal win over Humboldt on Monday. The substate final winner will punch its ticket to next week’s state tournament at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
“It feels good to get past this one, but this is the least of our goals,” Rattenborg said of the semifinal win. “We’ve got to win one more to play in Iowa City and that would be a heck of an experience.”
Tickets for tonight’s substate final must be purchased online through the IHSAA website (www.iahsaa.org/tickets).
Class 3A Substate 2 Semifinal
WCHS 4, Clear Lake 0
Monday at Webster City
CL 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
WCHS 110 110 x — 4 5 0
Carson Toebe, Jett Neuberger (5) and PJ Feuerbach. Chase Rattenborg and Devon Stoakes. W — Rattenborg. L — Toebe. Multiple hits — WC: Ty McKinney. 2B — WC: McKinney (2). RBI — WC: Beau Klaver, Tyler Olson.