Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – For the better part of the past two weeks every hard-hit ball off the bat of Liam McComas seemed to land in an opponents’ glove or on the wrong side of the foul line.
The City High junior finally got the breakthrough he needed on Monday.
McComas had three hits and drove in four runs as City High salvaged a doubleheader split with Dubuque Wahlert (19-14) with a 9-4 win in the nightcap of a Mississippi Valley Conference twin bill at Mercer Park in Iowa City.
“I’ve been in a slump and it seemed like if I hit it hard it was right to the guy and I could just not find the gap,” McComas said. “That was a big hit to get me going.”
McComas ripped a two-run double just inside the third base line during a three-run City High first inning as the Little Hawks rebounded from a 6-3 loss in the opener.
That was just the beginning for McComas who burst out of a 2-for-16 slump with his first multi-hit game since June 6.
McComas added an RBI single in the fourth and plated a run with his second double of the game in the sixth as City High improved to 18-14 on the season and 10-12 in MVC play.
“I just had to stay strong because I’ve been in a slump and I knew my team needed me,” McComas said. “It felt good to see some balls get down in that game.”
There was plenty of frustration to go around for McComas and his Little Hawk teammates in the opener.
City High out-hit Dubuque Wahlert eight to five and didn’t commit an error but couldn’t come up with a timely hit, stranding 10 in a 6-3 loss.
“That’s really been the difference maker for us is we haven’t necessarily come through with the hits with runners in scoring position and the same things happened that first game,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “I think our defense has become really solid where we weren’t that way throughout most of the year and our pitching has continued to be pretty good, we just didn’t come through with that big hit.”
McComas made sure getting the big hit wouldn’t be a problem in the nightcap.
After going 0-for-3 in the opener on Monday McComas had just five hits in his previous 30 at bats and Mitchell moved him from third to fifth in the Little Hawk batting order.
McComas came up with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the first inning and ripped a 2-2 fastball from Dubuque Wahlert starter Owen Funke just inside the third base bag for a two-run double.
“Coach moved me back in the lineup a little bit and coming up in that situation I knew I just had to make the most out of it,” McComas said. “I just wanted to get some runs in and get the team going.”
The two-run McComas double gave City High a lead it would never give up.
City High added another run on a Sam Lewers groundout and picked up two more runs in the second inning on an RBI single by DJ Heck and a RBI groundout by Zach Kuepker.
“We knew we needed to pick up our attitudes,” McComas said. “We just had to string together hits and not leave those guys on and that’s how we could win that game. We just put the ball in play and found the gaps that game.”
City High led 6-2 in the fifth when back-to-back walks by starter Evan Jones put two on with one out and forced Mitchell to make a pitching change.
Jacob Dykes got Jackson Walter to bounce into a 1-6-3 on the first pitch he threw to escape the jam.
“I was just trying to keep the momentum in our direction,” Dykes said. “They were all hyped up because they had just got the pitching change which is what you always try to get. They had runners on and it was looking good for them to get back in the game at that point so just keeping the momentum on our side was big.”
Dykes helped City High put the game out of reach in the sixth with a two-run single to left field.
McComas followed with an RBI double to put City High up 9-2.
“You always try to get the sweep, that’s always the priority but after you lose that first one it’s just not getting swept,” Dykes said. “It’s the game of baseball you play it right and things still don’t work your way sometimes so we had to come back and get the second game.”
Jones earned the win allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits in 4 1/3 before giving way to Dykes who worked the final 2 2/3 allowing two runs on two hits.
Cade Hanrahan had three hits while Heck had two and scored two runs.
City High is off until returning to action on Friday at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
“We feel like we’ve always been right there and we are just working on fine tuning some things,” Dykes said. “Hopefully this little break helps some people get recovered that are starting to wear down a little at this point in the season.”
Dubuque Wahlert 020 211 0 – 6 5 1
City High 002 001 0 – 3 9 0
W – Matty Schmitz L – Ry Threlkeld-Wiegand
2B – ICH: Travis Reyhons, Jacob Dykes; DW: Zach Kemp, Jimmy McDermott
HR – ICH: Travis Reyhons
Dubuque Wahlert 000 201 1 – 4 7 3
City High 320 103 x – 9 12 3
W – Evan Jones L – Owen Funke
2B – ICH: Liam McComas (2), Zach Kuepker; DW: Jimmy McDermott (2), Jared Weber