Sawyer Nauman homered and Tanner Nauman threw a complete-game five-hitter, but more importantly delivered a two-run single in the fourth inning to help Western Dubuque secure a 3-2 victory over Monticello in their opening-round Class 3A, Substate 3 battle at Farley Community Park, July 16.
Monticello (16-14) knew the best way to attack the Bobcats would be to score early and often. The Panthers were able to get on the board in the top of the first when they took advantage of a shaky start by Tanner Nauman who issued a lead-off walk to Caleb Sauser. He ended up scoring on Justin Recker’s two-out single just out of the reach of a leaping Sawyer Nauman at first base as Monticello took an early 1-0 lead.
Sawyer Nauman quickly got the Bobcats back into the game when he blasted a home run deep into the cornfield behind the park on a 2-1 fastball over the middle of the plate.
“That was a big home run. Not just how far it went, but what it did for this team. It didn’t just tie up the score, but it allowed for the rest of these guys to settle into the game,” said Casey Bryant, head coach. “We’ve played just one game in the past 10 days because of rainouts so they needed a couple of at-bats to get into the game, except for Sawyer; he’s always ready to swing the bat.”
Tucker Nauman also settled in the flow of the game mainly starting to throw his curveball for strikes. Once he started to do that, it became an extremely tough night for Monticello.
In the top of fourth, Monticello was set up to take the lead but miscommunication between the third base coach and Justin Recker proved to be costly. Recker was gunned down at home on a relay throw from Sawyer Nauman to Bryn Vantiger.
That opened the door for the Bobcats who took advantage in the bottom of the inning. Sawyer Nauman drew a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jayden Siegert. Vantiger followed with a ground ball to Tate Petersen at third base who threw wildly to first, allowing Sawyer Nauman to move to third and Vantiger to second. Tucker Nauman drove a two-strike pitch up the middle for a two-run single that put the Bobcats up for good, 3-1 lead.
Tanner Nauman worked a quick top of the fifth inning facing just three batters but had to work to get out of a jam in the sixth as Monticello tried to get back into the game. Preston Ries led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Recker then hit a sharp ground ball up the middle that Tanner Nauman fielded and fired to third to get Ries who was trying to advance on the play. With two outs, the Panthers kept working as Caleb Gillmore hit a shot to Jake Goodman at third base who missed Gillmore at first because of a bad throw. Lambert then delivered a single to right field that scored Recker and cut the lead to one, 3-2.
In the seventh, it was all Tanner Nauman as he shut things down.
“I was just focusing on throwing strikes,” said Tanner Nauman. “I was a little shaky in the beginning, but we managed to get the win. That’s all that matters this time of the year — win and move on.”