The weather played havoc on the opening week of Western Dubuque’s 2021 baseball season, with the Bobcats being weathered out of a road contest at Davenport West, May 25, and a home twin bill against Cedar Rapids Jefferson, May 28.
The Bobcats finally got on the field at Riverfront Stadium, in Waterloo, May 29, and opened with an extra-inning 8-7 loss to Des Moines Dowling Catholic, before picking up their first win of the season with an 11-1 win over Waterloo Columbus.
“It was a great day. We finally got to play some baseball after getting rained out a couple times,” said WD coach Casey Bryant. “We played a great team in Dowling — they’re one of the top five or six teams in the state and had a real battle with them in extra innings — but it was a great experience for a younger team and it was fun to see them compete with those guys.”
After Dowling jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning, Western Dubuque scored five in the bottom of the inning to lead 5-3.
Garrett Baumhover’s bases-loaded walk scored the first run before a two-run single by Nick Bryant made it 3-0. An RBI double from Sawyer Nauman followed by Bryn Vantiger’s run-scoring-single plated run number five.
But when Dowling bounced back with four more in the third, the Maroons led 7-5. An RBI double from Sawyer Nauman and Jayden Siegert’s RBI single knotted the game at 7-7 in the fifth, and that’s where it stayed until Dowling pushed across a run in the top of the eighth to get the win.
The Bobcats used four pitchers in the contest — Tanner Nauman started and threw one inning, Baumhover one and one-third, Bryant three innings, and Isaac Then two and two-thirds.
“We wanted to throw a bunch of guys this weekend and get them that first experience on the hill and get them a little bit of work, especially since we got rained out Tuesday and Friday,” Bryant said. “We used six or seven pitchers on the day and could have thrown a few more if we had more innings.”
Western Dubuque offensive leaders against Dowling: hitting — Sawyer Nauman 2-for-2 and two RBIs, Bryant 2-for-4 and two RBIs, Siegert 2-for-4 and one RBI, Vantiger 2-for-5 and one RBI, Tucker Nauman 2-for-4, Then 1-for-3; runs — Bryant two, Sawyer Nauman, Tucker Nauman, Siegert, Jake Goodman and Logan Brosius one; stolen bases — Caleb Klein and Bryant one; doubles — Sawyer Nauman two, Tucker Nauman one.
The Bobcats broke open a close game against Columbus with an eight-run sixth inning. Vantiger’s RBI single in the first opened the scoring, and Sawyer Nauman — who doubled four times with four RBIs on the day — knocked home Baumhover and Bryant with a two-bagger in the third to make it 3-0.
“He’s just really good,” said Bryant of Nauman. “He got intentionally walked by Dowling twice late in the game because they didn’t want to pitch to him. Dowling threw their top four pitchers at us, so it was kind of fun to see that.”
Western Dubuque sent 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth to put things out of reach. Sawyer Nauman’s second two-run double of the game and a two-run double from Tyler Weidenbacher were the big blows of the inning.
Ryan Klosterman threw five innings of four-hit ball to pick up the win, and Ryker Staudenmaier finished up in the sixth.
“We’re in a better place than I thought we’d be right now,” Bryant said. “With a younger team you need that developmental time and I feel like we’re ahead of the curve of where I thought we’d be.”
Western Dubuque offensive leaders against Columbus: hitting — Sawyer Nauman 2-for-3 and four RBIs, Weidenbacher 2-for-4 and three RBIs, Vantiger 1-for-4 and one RBI, Baumhover 1-for-2, Bryant 1-for-3, Then 1-for-3; runs — Baumhover three, Bryant and Then two, Sawyer Nauman, Vantiger, Staudenmaier and Tucker Nauman one; stolen bases — Baumhover and Then one; doubles — Sawyer Nauman two, Bryant and Weidenbacher one.