Breaking Down Class 3A and 4A Substate Baseball Finals

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

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Class 3A

Class 3A, Substate 5

Fairfield (30-8) at No. 5 Solon (31-10)

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Solon

Player to Watch: Fairfield junior Tristan Waugh has been the key to the Trojan offense hitting .390 with six home runs and a team-high 14 doubles and 53 RBI.

Key Stat: Solon is averaging 15.7 runs per game and hitting .468 as a team with eight home runs during its current three-game winning streak.

About the Trojans: Fairfield rallied from a 4-2 deficit to edge Liberty High in the district title game and is seeking its first trip to the state tournament since 2014.

The Trojans have shown the ability to put up runs in bunches this season scoring double figure runs in 19 of 38 games.

Eight regulars in the Fairfield lineup enter Wednesday’s substate final hitting better than .300 led by senior Hunter Hoskins (.409) and junior Cooper Drish (.446).

About the Spartans: Nearly a year to the day since Solon was denied a second consecutive state tournament trip with a 4-3 nine-inning loss to Marion the Spartans get a shot at a measure of redemption.

Eight starters are back from last year’s squad that came up one run shy of a state tournament berth including nine seniors that would like nothing more than to end their prep careers at Principal Park.

Solon appears to be peaking at the perfect time. The Spartans have won 12 of their last 14 since dropping both games of a doubleheader to 4A substate finalist Western Dubuque on June 25.

The Spartans have scored 10 or more runs eight times in their last 14 games and have put up 15 or more in three consecutive games.

Sophomore Cam Miller figures to get the start in the substate final for the second straight season. Miller is 8-3 with a 1.20 ERA and has struck out 68 in 52 1/3 innings.

The Spartans are led by Ira but have a strong lineup around him that includes senior center fielder Kendrick Harris (.388 5 HR), senior first baseman Zach Wegmann (.355, 5 HR) and senior third baseman Tyler Linderbaum (.300, 35 RBI).

Breakdown: Both teams have their pitching staffs lined up for a battle of aces but both boast a lineup capable of putting up runs against anyone.

The teams both rank in the top four in Class 3A in runs, doubles, home runs and slugging percentage.

Solon leads the state with 40 home runs and Fairfield ranks third with 28. Fairfield averages 9.2 runs per game and Solon is putting up 8.9 per contest.

With two strong pitchers going on Wednesday the longball could be a deciding factor.

Led Luke Ira and his state-leading 19 home runs no team has hit more homers than Solon while Fairfield is led by junior Austin Simpson with 10 homers and Waugh with six.

Class 4A

Class 4A, Substate 3

City High (24-17) at Marshalltown (19-18)

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Marshalltown

Player to Watch: Marshalltown senior Nate Vance is hitting a team-best .359 and leads the Bobcats in runs (29), hits (37) and stolen bases (19) while doubling as the team’s ace with a 8-2 record and 1.74 ERA in 60 1/3 innings.

Key Stat: Marshalltown has a team batting average of .244 which ranks fifth worst in Class 4A and had four hits in a 2-1 substate quarterfinal win over Cedar Falls.  

About the Bobcats: Marshalltown started the season 13-4 but has won just six of its final 20 games.

The second-seeded Bobcats used a two-run home run by Dru Dobbins to down Cedar Falls in the substate quarterfinals and earn a bye to the substate final.

Scoring runs has been struggle at times for Marshalltown this season. The Bobcats had a 26-inning scoreless stretch during a seven-game losing skid last month in which it scored just two runs.

Marshalltown has used solid pitching to balance out its offensive struggles. The Bobcats own a 3.06 ERA and its top four pitchers that have accounted for 179 innings have combined for a 1.96 ERA and 184 strikeouts.

Don’t be fooled by the 19-18 record, the Bobcats are 5-13 this season against teams currently ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A.

About the Little Hawks: A year after being upset by Linn-Mar in the substate finals City High gets another shot at returning to the state tournament for the first time since 2003.

City High bounced back from three straight losses late in the season with three consecutive wins including a pair of substate wins by a combined score of 22-4.

The Little Hawks are hitting .491 as a team with eight extra-base hits while scoring 11 runs in each of their postseason wins.

Senior leadoff hitter Travis Reyhons has been the catalyst for the Little Hawk attack.

Reyhons is hitting a team-high .421 and has a blend of power and speed with a team-best 20 extra-base hits to go with 29 stolen bases.

He has set the career and single season stolen base record and tied the single season record for triples with six.

Juniors DJ Heck (.349, 40 runs) and Liam McComas (.341, 41 RBI) have had strong finishes for City High.

Breakdown: A couple of teams trying to snap state tournament droughts meet in surprise district final after top-seed and fifth-ranked Southeast Polk was upset in the quarterfinals.

Expect runs to be at a premium in this one.

Marshalltown has a fully stocked pitching staff while City High has options that include junior Ry Threlkeld-Wiegand who earned the win in the substate quarterfinal last Friday.

An early run could be the difference in a meeting of two teams averaging less than six runs per game on the season.

Class 4A, Substate 6

Cedar Rapids Washington (24-17) at No. 4 West High (30-10)

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: West High

Player to Watch: Jacob Bockenstedt has been a leader for Cedar Rapids Washington all over the field this season. Bockenstedt is hitting .409 with three home runs and 40 RBI and leads the Warrior pitching staff with a 6-1 record and 2.41 ERA in 52 1/3 innings.

Key Stat: West High senior catcher Lucas Karwal has had a hit in 33-of-39 games this season and leads the Trojans with a .417 batting average, 10 doubles and 32 RBI.

About the Warriors: Cedar Rapids Washington has battled through injuries that led to a depleted roster to move one game away from a return trip to the state tournament.

The Warriors had just three hits in its substate opener against Davenport North but held on for a 4-2 win.

Washington then rallied from an 2-0 deficit to earn a 5-3 win over cross-town rival Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the substate semifinals.

Junior Lincoln Riley leads the Warrior offense, hitting .432 with 19 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

Bockenstedt and senior Drew Christensen (.336) have combined for six home runs and 70 RBI while junior Joe McKinstry is batting .355 and has a team-high 43 RBI.

About the Trojans: Over the past four seasons West High has made a habit of playing its best at the end of the season and the Trojans appear to be trending in that direction once again.

West High has won 10 of its last 11 games, the lone loss during that stretch an 8-7 setback to seventh-ranked Davenport Central.

The Trojans scored five runs in its final two at bats to break open a one-run game in an 8-2 win over Muscatine in the substate opener last week to earn a bye to Wednesday’s final.

A state semifinalist each of the past four seasons West High is seeking a fifth consecutive state tournament appearance.

Eight West High starters are hitting better than .300 led by Karwal and senior Braden Houston (.396, 24 RBI).

Jason Strunk has hit a team-high seven home runs to held West High blast a Class 4A-best 24 homers.

Along with their power numbers the Trojans also rank third in 4A in stolen bases with 136 and have six players with double digit steals led by Houston with 20.

Breakdown: A rematch of last seasons’ 4A state quarterfinal won by West High 12-2 two Mississippi Valley Conference teams meet for the sixth time in two seasons with a return trip to Principal Park on the line.

West High has won three of the last five meeting with the Warriors, including 7-6 win in the nightcap of an MVC doubleheader on June 1.

Cedar Rapids Washington won the opener of that doubleheader 9-1 and had 23 hits in the two games.