Brynn Walters doubled home Erica Ernzen with the winning run in the bottom half of the ninth inning, as Western Dubuque won game two of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader, at Farley Park, June 14, handing Linn-Mar its first loss of the 2022 season.

“We really challenged our players to compete better in game two,” said Western Dubuque coach Rex Massey. “Morgan Hosch got us off to a good start pitching, giving up only one run in four innings, which allowed us to stay in the game mentally.”

The Bobcats came all the way back in this one, as Linn-Mar led 3-0 after five innings. Western Dubuque got right back in it in the sixth when Maddie Harris doubled and Kaitlyn Thole singled to the left side. Morgan Hosch drove Harris home to get Western Dubuque on the board, and Hailey Wulfekuhle followed with a single to score Thole, making it 3-2.

Walters foreshadowed things to come in the bottom of the seventh, singling home Erica Ernzen to send the contest to extra innings. Linn-Mar was unable to mount a serious threat, setting up Walters’ game winner in the ninth.

“This was a really good win for us against a highly-ranked 5A team. Morgana and Kiya pitched a really good game,” said Massey. “We have lost a lot of one-run games, which can happen with a young team. If we continue to fix the little mistakes we can play with anyone, however, if we don’t, we can get beat by anyone.”

Hosch started and went five innings in the circle, allowing three runs on six hits before Kiya Steger shut down the Lions with only two hits the rest of the way to earn the win. Offensively, Walters was 2-for-5 with two RBIs, Erica Ernzen and Aubrianna Jarding 2-for-3, Hosch and Wulfekuhle 1-for-4 with one RBI and Harris 1-for-4.

Linn-Mar jumped to an 8-0 lead in game one on the way to an 11-0 win. The Bobcats threatened, but came up empty in the first and fourth innings, and ended with four hits. Hannah Hoefer, Walters, Harris and Wulfekuhle were 1-for-3.

Meredith Hoerner took the loss, allowing eight runs on seven hits in five innings before Hoefer relieved and gave up three runs on four hits.

“We got off to a really bad start against a good team,” said Massey. “Getting down 7-0 is too much to come back from.”

Four consecutive wins late last week pushed the Bobcats over the .500 mark on the season, as doubleheader sweeps of Waterloo West and Anamosa have Western Dubuque at 14-11.

At Waterloo, June 16, the Bobcats took game one, 14-10 in a slugfest, and the offense kept at it in a 9-5 game two win.

West led, 6-4, after three innings in the opener, but a six-run fourth put WD back on top, as Steger’s two-run homer capped the inning. West scored a run in the fifth and three in the sixth to tie it up heading to the final inning, but a four-run WD frame made it 14-10. Hosch, who relieved Hoerner in the third, held West scoreless in the seventh to get the win.

“The wind was blowing out and they have a smaller park, so there was a lot of scoring. Harris and Steger had big nights at the plate,” said Massey. “We got behind early but battled back for the win. Everyone in the lineup contributed and it was good to come back and win a type of game we weren’t winning early in the year.”

Hoerner allowed five runs on four hits in two innings, and Hosch five runs on seven hits. Offensively, Western Dubuque pounded 13 hits. Harris was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Steger 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Isabel Ernzen 2-for- 4, Emma Ernzen 1-for-2, Thole 1-for-3 with one RBI, Walters 1-for-3, Wulfekuhle 1-for-4 with one RBI and Hosch 1-for-1. Hoefer had two runs batted in.

It was all even after three innings in game two, 3-3, but West went on top 5-3 with a two-run fourth. But the Bobcats took control with a five-run fifth with Steger’s second two-run homer of the night, the big blow. Erica Ernzen tripled and scored for the second time in the inning to end the scoring.

“Our bats were a little slower and we got behind after four innings,” Massey said. “A big fifth inning gave us the lead we needed. This was our fifth come from behind win of the year. Our young players are starting to believe in themselves. Maddie Harris is doing a great job leading the team on and off the field.”

Steger went the distance in the circle, allowing five runs and six hits striking out five, while leading the offense going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Thole was 2-for-3 with one RBI, Ava Ramler 1-for-2 with one RBI, Harris 2-for-4 with one RBI, Erica Ernzen 2-for-4, Walters 1-for-3 with one RBI, and Hosch 1-for-3.

Hoerner tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out nine in game one, as the Bobcats won a 4-0 decision over Anamosa, in Farley, June 17.

A four-run fourth inning was all the scoring in this one, as Walters had an RBI double and Harris followed with a run-scoring single to give Hoerner plenty of cushion.

“Anamosa has a really good pitcher and we knew this was going to be a low scoring game. Meredith pitched a good game and did a good job attacking the hitters,” stated Massey. “When we saw how she was pitching, we did everything we could to get one run.”

Harris was 2-for-2 with one RBI, Walters 1-for-3 with one RBI, Wulfekuhle 2-for-3 Thole 1-for-2 and Hoefer 1-for-3.

It was a 6-2 win for WD in game two. Steger got the win in the circle, pitching 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs and two hits with eight strikeouts, before Hoefer worked out of a sixth inning bases loaded jam to get the save in 1 1/3 innings of work.

“It was nice to get out to an early lead,” Massey said. “We left a lot of runners on base tonight, but I am really excited we had runners in scoring position 11-of-12 innings. This was a great week going 5-1, including four games against ranked teams.”

Thole blasted a sixth inning round tripper to give the Bobcats some breathing room after the Raiders had narrowed the gap to 4-2. Steger was 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs, Harris 2-for-4 with one RBI, Walters 2-for-4, Thole 1-for-3 with one RBI and Erica Ernzen 1-for-4.

“Our schedule gets really difficult the last two weeks, playing eight games against ranked 5A teams,” concluded Massey. “We have to use these games to get better and learn how to compete at the highest level so we are ready to play when the postseason begins.”