What to Watch As the Baseball Postseason Gets Underway


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

The baseball postseason is here.

District play opened in Class 1A and 2A on Saturday with the postseason getting underway in 3A and 4A this week.

The ultimate goal for every team is a trip to Principal Park in Des Moines which hosts the state baseball tournament that begins July 20 and concludes with championships in all four classes on July 28.

Over the next ten days the playoff field will be narrowed down to 32 state qualifiers across four classes.

Here are five things to keep an eye on as area teams via for those state tournament berths over the next week and a half.

Regina’s Emerging Ace

In the postseason strong pitching often trumps good hitting and led by ace Mitch Gahan third-ranked Regina (24-7) holds the strongest hand at the table in Class 2A, Substate 5.

With last year’s staff leader Ryne Schooley out of pitching commission this season Gahan has emerged as the ace of a deep Regina pitching staff.

Gahan has posted a 6-2 record with a 1.14 ERA and .78 WHIP in a team-high 37 innings this season.

The junior right-hander enters the postseason riding an impressive 12-inning hitless stretch.

After allowing nine runs on 10 hits in back-to-back losses to top-ranked Cascade and No. 6 Monticello in a span of five days Gahan tossed consecutive no-hitters in his final two regular season outings.

Gahan struck out 19 and allowed just one walk in 12 innings in consecutive wins over Durant and Northeast.

Led by Gahan the Regals boast a 2.36 team ERA and enter the postseason winners of seven straight and 10 of their last 11 games.

Postseason Time = West High's Time

For nearly half a decade the postseason has brought out the best in Charlie Stumpff’s West High squads.

The Trojans have won nine consecutive substate games while reaching the Class 4A state tournament each of the past four seasons.

West High is 16-4 in postseason games during its four-year string of state tournament appearances with three of those losses coming in the 4A state title game.

The Trojans have been especially dominant on the road to state winning each of its last nine substate games by three runs or more.

Over the last two seasons West High has won four substate games by a combined score of 37-3.

Riding an eight-game winning streak with two regular seasons games to play West High (28-9) appears to have gotten a head start on its late season push this season.

The top seed in Substate 6,4A fourth-ranked West High hosts Muscatine (4-21) in its postseason opener on Friday and a win earns the Trojans a bye to the substate title game.

West High is 5-1 this season against Substate 6 teams including a doubleheader sweep of second-seeded Cedar Rapids Jefferson and a split with third seed Cedar Rapids Washington.

Beware the Long Ball

Few things change a game as quickly as a home run and no team in Iowa has hit the long ball as frequently this season as Solon.

Led by seniorLuke Ira and his state-leading 16 home runs Class 3A fifth-ranked Solon (28-9) has pounded a state-high 31 home runs through 37 games.

Ira is the catalyst for a Solon offense that ranks ninth in the state in runs, averaging 8.5 per game.

The senior is hitting .448 and has a team-high 48 RBI to go with his state-best 16 home runs but has gotten plenty of help.

Seven regulars in the Solon lineup are hitting over .300 and seven different Spartans have multiple home runs this season.

Solon opens postseason play at home on Friday against Keokuk and will have home field advantage throughout the postseason as the Spartans attempt to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2016.

The Spartans have been especially potent offensively at home averaging 9.4 runs per game in 16 home games.

Solon has homered 19 times in 16 home games while 10 of Ira’s 16 home runs have come at home.

Ready for Some Rematches

The old saying in sports says its hard to beat a team three times in a season.

City High (21-15) will need a third win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy (12-23) in a span of a week to keep its season alive.

The Little Hawks outscored Kennedy 20-1 in a doubleheader sweep on Friday in Cedar Rapids and host the Cougars in a 4A, Substate 3 quarterfinal on Friday at Mercer Park.

City High is the third seed in Substate 3 and is seeking its first state tournament trip since 2003 after falling in the substate final a year ago.

The third meeting between Kennedy and City High in seven days highlights a list of postseason rematches for area teams.

West Branch (11-14) gets another shot at River Valley Conference rival West Liberty (10-15) in the 2A, District 8 semifinals on Tuesday.

West Liberty swept the Bears in a doubleheader on June 11 winning 5-3 and 1-0.

Regina hosts Mid-Prairie in a 2A, District 9 semifinal on Tuesday after sweeping the Golden Hawks in a doubleheader last month.

West High opens postseason play with a rematch against Muscatine after downing the Muskies 8-0 in a non-conference contest on June 27.

Liberty High Makes Postseason Debut

Liberty High will make its postseason debut on Friday when it faces Washington (20-9) at 5 p.m. in Fairfield.

The Lightning have gone 9-11 following an 0-7 start to the first varsity season in program history, a stretch that includes a pair of losses to Washington in a double header on June 11.

Liberty High has shown great growth in year number one under head coach Tom Cronk, a long-time West High assistant that played a key role in the Trojans string of postseason success.

Cronk and the Lightning will try to ad an exclamation point to the first sason in program history with a strong postseason run.