THE DREAM ENDS IN 9
Lynx denied first trip to state in 14 years by Go-Hawks in extra innings
WEBSTER CITY — Devon Stoakes didn’t even want to look. Positioned near first base, he crouched down and stared into an empty right field while, behind him, the Waverly-Shell Rock players celebrated mosh-pit style between the mound and home plate late Wednesday night at Lynx Field.
That was supposed to be him and his teammates celebrating, Stoakes thought. But destiny had other ideas.
“To be so close and to lose, that’s really tough,” Stoakes, a junior catcher, said only minutes after sixth-ranked WCHS had its season and state tournament aspirations squashed in the Class 3A Substate 2 final by Waverly-Shell Rock, 9-3 in 9 innings. “We really believed we could go far, but baseball is baseball.”
The Go-Hawks (33-7) advanced to next week’s state tournament in Iowa City and denied WCHS (26-2) its first trip since 2007 by breaking open a 3-3 tie with a six-run outburst in the top of the ninth. They sent 12 batters to the dish and only had two hits, but took advantage of three walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches and an error to put the game out of reach.
“It really stings,” Tyler Olson, the Lynx starting pitcher who went the first eight innings before having to leave the mound due to pitch count restrictions, said. “If you look back at the game, we made so many winning plays, but at the end we just didn’t have what it took.”
A bloop single by Peyton Groen started the nightmare ninth for the Lynx. The first five Go-Hawks reached base in the frame, and Groen scored the winning run on a bases loaded walk to Carson Graven. Chance Key followed with a bullet single up the middle that plated two more and, essentially, put the game out of reach.
W-SR out-hit the Lynx, 7-6, and neither team was particularly sharp defensively. They combined for 10 errors, 6 by the Go-Hawks and four for the Lynx, and they led to four unearned runs.
In his final prep game on the mound, Olson was touched for only five hits and one earned run over his eight innings of work. He struck out nine, including the final batter he faced. But he had plenty of respect for a Go-Hawks lineup that he called the best he’s faced this season.
“One through nine, they were swinging,” he said. “If you got any of them out, you were happy.”
WCHS, which lost for the first time since June 3, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Olson roasted a two-out double to straightaway center field and Sean Carver followed with an RBI single through the left side of the infield.
W-SR answered with three runs in the third, as Ben Buseman stroked an RBI single into right and two more scored on a two-out throwing error.
But the Lynx didn’t wave the white flag, they simply responded. They trimmed it to 3-2 in the third, as Stoakes singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch, and then evened it at 3 in the fifth when Stoakes again scored on a two-out RBI single off the bat of CJ Hisler.
And then came the sixth inning, which in hindsight, was just as tough as the ninth.
Chase Rattenborg and Trey Lyons both reached on errors and stood on first and third with no outs, 90 feet from taking the lead. But W-SR was able to play Houdini with a strikeout, a throw out at second attempting to steal and a fly-out to right, to keep the game knotted at 3.
“The first and third thing was bad,” WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe said.
Kehoe raced onto the field to argue when Lyons was called out at second on the stolen base attempt. The gut punch only felt stronger moments later when Ty McKinney lofted a deep fly ball to right field that Rattenborg would have scored on from third had there been only one out.
Kehoe said the attempted stolen base was to take away a potential double play on a ground ball.
“That’s the game of baseball,” Kehoe said. “I understand how you could look at it, especially since Ty hit a pop-fly right after it.”
WCHS had two more chances to win in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but got nothing going against Buseman, who went four innings in relief to earn the win. Beau Klaver hit a towering fly ball to center in the eighth, but it didn’t have enough steam to get out of the park.
Key, the Go-Hawks’ southpaw starting pitcher, went five innings and surrendered six hits to go along with six strikeouts. Lyons was on the hook for the loss after he took over for Olson to start the ninth. Zach Dyvig came on to get the final two outs in the ninth.
Olson finished 2 for 4 at the plate. Rattenborg joined Stoakes, Carver and Hisler with one hit each.
It was tough to take in the big picture of the season when the loss was still so fresh afterward, but Kehoe hopes his players will be able to reflect and smile sooner rather than later.
“It should sting for a couple days because I know what this game meant, and obviously the bigger the moment, the bigger the heartache if it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “But they’ll quickly realize how cool this season was for sure.”
Stoakes was already there 20 minutes after the final pitch.
“This season means something to everybody here,” he said. “We knew we had a good shot at being really good and we were. We showed up every night.”
Class 3A Substate 2 Final
W-SR 9, WCHS 3 (9 inn)
Wednesday at Webster City
W-SR 003 000 006 — 9 7 6
WCHS 101 010 000 — 3 6 4
Chance Key, Ben Buseman (6) and Luke Shover. Tyler Olson, Trey Lyons (9), Zach Dyvig (9) and Devon Stoakes. W — Buseman. L — Lyons. Multiple hits — W-SR: Shover, Peyton Groen; WC: Olson. 2B — WC: Olson. 3B — W-SR: Carson Graven. RBI — W-SR: Key (2), Buseman (2), Graven; WC: Sean Carver, CJ Hisler.