IOWA CITY – It was the end of the line for Iowa City West, and a highly decorated high school baseball career came to a close.
Cedar Falls put up a handful of crooked numbers en route to a 12-8 victory in a Class 4A Substate 3 semifinal Monday night at third-seeded West.
The fifth-seeded Tigers (18-20) advance to play at No. 1 Cedar Rapids Prairie (31-8) in the substate finals at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Cedar Falls now stands one win away from a return trip to the state tournament.
"We battled all night long with contributions all over the lineup, which in the playoffs is critical," Cedar Falls coach Brett Williams said. "Brody Bartlett and Jaden Kramer came up huge for us out of the 6/7 spots in the lineup. Max Steinlage had struggled all night at the plate, and to get a home run from the 9 spot was a huge boost in the sixth inning. We had eight RBIs from our 6,7,8 and 9 batters. When that happens in the playoffs, it's a huge lift to the team."
West High finished 22-15 as multi-sport star Marcus Morgan wore a Trojan uniform for the final time, although he did all he could to keep the season alive. Morgan, who will continue his baseball career at the University of Iowa, drove in six and scored two.
“That’s Marcus,” West High coach Charlie Stumpff said. “He’s been a great kid this year with a lot of young guys. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of guy to coach. He is a special, special player whether it be on the mound or hitting. He’s going to do well at the next level. We got to experience a few years with him and that’s pretty cool.”
Morgan’s output couldn’t keep pace with the Tigers. Six West High pitchers combined to allow nine hits while issuing eight walks and hitting four batters. The Trojans committed a pair of errors in the field. Cedar Falls scored nine of their runs with two outs.
The Trojans had their chances. West High starter Nathan Stephens kept the Tigers off the board in the top of the first. Nate Gudenkauf singled in the bottom of the opening frame. Morgan followed with a two-run blast over the right-center field wall, his sixth home run of the season.
Cedar Falls responded in the top of the second. Three straight walks and an error led to a five-run inning.
Down 7-3 entering the bottom of the fourth, Morgan struck again. The Trojans loaded the bases with one out. Morgan double to left-center, plating two. Morgan came around to score on an RBI groundout from Cade Adkins, tying the score 7-7.
The Tigers promptly loaded the bases in the top of the fifth. With two outs and a full count, Brody Bartlett blasted a bases clearing double off the wall in right.
The final blow came as No. 9 hitter Max Steinlage ended a long at bat in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer to right.
Morgan was granted one more chance in the bottom of the seventh, ripping an RBI single. The Trojans left 10 on base.
“We don’t need to discuss the game at this stage and dissect it,” Coach Stumpff said. “Tonight was a microcosm of what we do. We were down and put up a four-spot and tied the game up. We’ve done that all year. That doesn’t happen by accident. That’s your seniors making sure they keep grinding and grinding.”
Go-Hawks advance to substate final
WAVERLY – Waverly-Shell Rock moved within one win of state after earning a Class 3A Substate Region 2 semifinal baseball victory Monday night.
The second-seeded Go-Hawks downed No. 3 Humboldt 4-1 at Wartburg College’s Hertel Field.
W-SR (32-7) will play at top seed Webster City (26-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Junior Carson Graven struck out 10 in the win. Senior Ben Buseman recorded his 11th save.
Waverly-Shell Rock scored three runs in the first and one in the second to take control. In the first, Chance Key collected an RBI triple, Andy Roose drove in a run with a base hit and Luke Shover added a sacrifice fly.