Defending Champ Urbandale Downs West High in 4A Semifinal

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – When Urbandale captured the Class 4A state title last season it entered as a senior-led and second-seeded title contender with six losses.

The defending champion J-Hawks returned to the state tournament this season as a youthful six-seed with the second most losses in the 4A field with 14.

One thing Urbandale hasn’t looked or felt like during the 2019 tournament is an underdog.

Ninth-ranked Urbandale (30-14) pounded 12 hits and returned to the Class 4A title game with a 10-2 win over second-ranked West High (34-8) on Friday in a Class 4A semifinal at Principal Park in Des Moines.

“This group is maybe not as talented as (last year) but they are as gritty as any team we’ve had the past few years, they compete they know how to win they’ve won at all levels so we were just excited to do it and it’s unbelievable to be back in this spot,” Urbandale coach Jeremy Heinen said. “I think we did fly under the radar a little bit and I’m o.k. with because we knew at this point, we were a pretty good team.”

Urbandale has been more than pretty good down the stretch.

The J-Hawks knocked off fifth-ranked Western Dubuque in the 4A quarterfinals on Wednesday and their winning streak to eight with the win over West High.

Urbandale did everything well on Friday.

The J-Hawks got a strong outing from junior ace Ty Langenberg, played flawless defense behind him, had a hit in every inning and stole 10 bases.

“They are a handful,” West High coach Charlie Stumpff said. “They run like crazy, this big park is meant for them and they got a lead and smelled a little blood and they just kept coming after us. They played exceptionally well tonight.”

West High had opportunities, especially early, but failed to capitalize while falling into a 6-0 hole.

The Trojans had their leadoff batter reach base five times but was 1-for-18 with runners on base.

“I felt like we just hit it to people and that’s baseball,” West High senior Chase Calderwood said. “They had some hits that fell and we didn’t. Maybe if we played them on a different day it’s a different day but today that’s what happened.”

West High stranded eight in the game, four in scoring position and seven in the first four innings.

“We had his pitch count up, we got guys on and needed a hit and he was better tonight that’s all,” Stumpff said. “He’s better a lot of nights so our kids did a great job.”

Langenberg started the quarterfinal against Western Dubuque on Wednesday, working an inning before a more than two-hour rain delay.

He eventually came back on to record the final out in the J-Hawks 3-0 win.

Heinen went back to Langenberg for Friday’s semifinal and he delivered allowing two runs on four hits while striking out 12 to improve to 8-2 on the year with his third postseason win.

“He started and then closed because of the rain delay but threw 30 pitches so we thought of it more as a bullpen and it was a no-brainer to throw him against West because we thought was an incredibly good offensive team,” Heinen said. “To hold them down like we did was pretty nice job.”

Urbandale took control early with a three-run second inning that featured a pair of singles that didn’t get off the infield grass.

Cal Watson and Joshua Neyes each had bloop base hits that landed just behind the pitchers mound in the three-run second.

“The whole thing was a little bit of a nightmare for us from our perspective,” Stumpff said. “The three runs in the second inning, were a ground ball base hit, a pop up over the pitcher, a sac fly and another pop up over the pitcher. It was poor fortune for us because Casey made great pitches. The idea is to keep them from squaring up balls and Casey did.”

Urbandale broke the game open in the fourth on a three-run double by sophomore catcher Gehrig Christensen.

West High got back in the game in the bottom of the fourth when Nick Biancuzzo lined a two-run triple down the right field that cut the lead to 6-2.

The triple by Biancuzzo snapped a string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings for Urbandale pitchers in the postseason.

A walk to Marcus Morgan put runners on the corners with one out but Langenberg got Jason Strunk to fly out to deep center field to end the inning.

“When they get another three then its real hard against him and yet we came back with two and had Strunky give it a shot, he just missed it,” Stumpff said. “(Langenberg) is very good and I thought we made him work exceptionally hard so tip your hat to him and tip your hat to them.”

Langenberg retired eight of the final nine batters he faced, allowing just a lead off single to Ryan Cooper in the fifth.

The junior right-hander had five of his 12 strikeouts in the final three innings.

“He has a good fastball and he had command of his off-speed stuff,” Biancuzzo said. “Any time you have that it’s tough.”

Urbandale      030  302  2  –  10  12  0

West High      000  200  0  –   2    4   0

W – Ty Langenberg                L – Casey Marvin

2B – URB: Cal Watson, Gehrig Christensen

3B – ICW: Nick Biancuzzo

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