There was always the possibility Calvin Harris wouldn’t be available for some, or possibly all, of the 2020 baseball season at Western Dubuque, but when the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year experienced arm tenderness and left the contest for precautionary reasons in the second inning of the season opener against Wahlert, at Farley Park, June 15, that possibility became a reality.

Western Dubuque jumped on Wahlert right out of the gate, scoring three runs in the first, and rode the arm of Casey Perrenoud, who relieved Harris and scattered five Golden Eagle hits in six innings of work, as the Bobcats picked up an impressive 5-1 win.

“We had a great team effort to regroup after Calvin’s injury and hold off a good Wahlert team,” said Western Dubuque coach Casey Bryant. “Overall, I was really pleased with how we competed.”

With the season opener delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bryant’s team was chomping at the bit to get to the plate in the first inning, and when the first two hitters were hit by pitches, and Harris walked to load the bases, Sawyer Nauman’s single plated leadoff hitter Will Burds.

Bryn Vantiger’s single plated Ben Bryant to make it 2-0, and Carter Kluesner’s infield ground ball scored run number three. Wahlert picked up a run in the top half of the third to make it 3-1, but Nauman singled and scored in the Western Dubuque side of the frame to make it 4-1. Payton Quagliano’s single scored Nauman — who reached by a walk — in the fifth to end the scoring.

The Bobcats scratched out five runs on only four hits, with Nauman going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Quagliano 1-for-2 with one RBI, Vantiger 1-for-3 with one RBI and Kluesner contributing a sacrifice RBI.

“We faced some very good pitching with Charlie Jaeger and Aaron Savary,” Bryant said. “That was a great experience for our guys.”

Linn-Mar has established itself as a player in the Mississippi Valley Conference, and if early indications point to where the race is headed, the Lions are in the hunt.

Linn-Mar broke open a tight game, at Marion, June 18, scoring seven fifth-inning runs to win a 12-2 decision over the Bobcat. Western Dubuque again struggled at the plate, notching only four hits in the contests.

“This game was really well-played early,” said Bryant. “It was only 2-1 in the fifth. Tucker Nauman threw really well the first three innings, but we took him out as we had him on a pitch count.”

Quagliano doubled and scored in the fifth for the Bobcats’ first run, and Will Burds singled and scored in the sixth, but that was all the Western Dubuque offense would muster.

“We were in the game, but played poorly with 10 walks, hit batsmen and defensive lapses,” said Bryant.

Tucker Nauman allowed no runs on three hits in three innings before yielding to Kluesner, who allowed five runs on four hits. Ben Hogan allowed seven runs on three hits in an inning of work.

Offensively, Burds was 2-for-3, Quagliano 1-for-2 with a double, and Tucker Nauman 1-for-2.

Iowa City Liberty is an up-and-coming program drawing plenty of attention heading to the abbreviated 2020 campaign.

The Lightning proved a force to be reckoned with, splitting a doubleheader with the Bobcats, June 19, at Iowa City, with Western Dubuque taking game one, 8-7, and Liberty winning the nightcap, 9-6.

“We split with a very solid Liberty team,” said Casey Bryant. “They have their top 10 guys returning from a 4A substrate final team.”

The Bobcats got the bats going in the opener, collecting six hits that led to nine runs. Perrenoud was 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the way, Kluesner 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Sawyer Nauman 1-for-4 with two RBIs, Quagliano 2-for-3, and Burds and Hogan had base hits.

On the mound, Ben Bryant scattered four hits allowing five runs in four innings, Quagliano allowed a run on two hits in two innings, and Perrenoud got the save pitching the seventh.

Liberty came back to take game two in a 9-6 verdict. The Bobcats scored five runs on five hits. Ventiger was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Quagliano 1-for4 with two RB Is, Burds 1-for-2 with one RBI and Perrenoud 1-for4 with one RBI.

“Ben Bryant, Garrett Baumhover, Quagliano and Ryker Kurimski all had some really good moments on the mound for us,” said Bryant. “We played a lot of different guys to get some different looks and we had some defensive lapses we need to correct. Two poor innings cost us a pile of unearned runs. We will need to clean that up.”