Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — Pitching always makes a difference in baseball and especially in the postseason. Lack of good pitching can make a huge difference.
The difference was three runs in a 7-4 win by Davis County over Mid-Prairie in a Class 2A substate final Tuesday at Dick Sojka Field.
Mid-Prairie’s Aidan Rath threw five wild pitches, gave up two extra-base hits, struck out four and hit a batter in 2 1/3 innings. Kayden Reinier relieved with the score at 3-1 and Rath’s runner on third. An error and a hit made the score 5-1 and the Golden Hawks had yet to bat a second time.
“You prepare, but you can’t walk guys and mix that with a couple of errors,” Mid-Prairie head coach Kyle Mullett said. “Then we didn’t hit enough to make up for it.”
Reinier led off the Golden Hawks first at bat by hitting the second pitch he saw up the middle for a single, stole second and scored on Keegan Gingerich’s hit. After an inning, Davis County led 2-1 with one hit while Mid-Prairie had two hits, an intentional walk of Rath, but a lone run.
Reinier threw 3 2/3 innings with three strikeouts, two runs and three hits allowed. Collin Miller tossed the seventh inning for the Hawks and hit the first batter, gave up two hits, a run and fanned two.
Rath leads Class 2A in home runs but was intentionally walked in his first three at-bats and flew out to deep center field in the seventh inning. Karson Grout was 2-for-4 with a double. Reinier was 2-for-4. Gingerich and Will Cavanagh each had a hit for the Hawks’ total of six.
“They had a good lefty pitcher that wasn’t overpowering, but he threw strikes,” Mullett said of Davis County sophomore Justin Matheney.
Matheney went the distance on the mound, striking out three while allowing six hits and issuing three intentional walks to Rath.
“Aidan is just one player, but it’s your big stick, and you rely on that sometimes to get guys going,” Mullett said. “That’s not an excuse.”
But hitting can be contagious, and the Mustangs didn’t allow it to catch on and spread.
The Golden Hawks trimmed the 5-1 lead to 5-3 in the third inning on Grout’s hit, Rath’s walk, Gingerich’s sacrifice bunt and Collin Miller’s hustle. Miller reached base on an error as Grout scored and, ironically, Rath was able to score on a wild pitch.
It was 5-4 after Reinier’s two-out single, and Grout’s RBI double in the fourth inning. It seemed like the Hawks were ready to take a hold of the game with Rath up to bat, but he was gifted first base, and Grout was tagged out on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The Mustangs caused the Golden Hawks consternation in the sixth inning when Carson Maeder ran home on an overthrow to third base. The throw home beat him by three steps, but he was able to knock the ball out of the glove of Mid-Prairie catcher Vinnie Bowlin, and it was a 6-4 game.
“We made a throw to third that we should have never ever made,” Mullett said.
Mid-Prairie (19-8) ends a season full of hope and promise in bitter disappointment.
“You can’t hit batters to lead off innings,” Mullett said. “That and a mixture of free bases and making errors and their hits and they have success.”
In four innings, Mid-Prairie put the first batter of the inning on base. All four scored.
“When you are advancing their runners with free bases, you can’t do that, and we knew that,” Mullett said. “You can prepare for that and talk about it all you want, but when it comes down to it, the boys have to come out here and perform.”
Davis County (15-18) will play top-seeded and top-ranked Van Meter (28-7) No other ranked Class 2A team made it to the state tournament at Merchants Park in Carroll. Unity Christian (20-7) and Clarinda (18-11) play in the four-five seed game. The other side of the bracket is Centerville (19-14) as the No. 2 seed playing No. 7 seed New Hampton (19-14). River Valley Conference member Camanche (23-6), seeded third, plays sixth seed Denver (18-18).
“The ride home was very quiet,” Mullett said. “Nobody said anything.”
Although it was his first year as head coach, Mullett has been an assistant for some time at Mid-Prairie and developed a personal relationship with many of the players, especially the seniors.
"They are a team with a good attitude and very coachable. They compete all the time. Even when we had just three outs left, we never quit. I have to give props. There’s a lot of heart in this team, and it was led by the seniors.“