Sixth-seed and defending state champion Urbandale proved it wasn’t ready to surrender the crown with a 3-0 Class 4A State Tournament quarterfinal win over third-seeded Western Dubuque at Principal Park in Des Moines July 31.
Urbandale’s Langenberg brothers — Ty and Tucker — combined for a three-hit shutout and the J-Hawks played small ball in a three-run second inning to make it two state tournament wins in a row over the Bobcats.
A two-hour and 40-minute rain delay following the first inning was a factor in the game, but whether it played a role in the outcome is debatable.
“Anytime you have that kind of delay you don’t know how 17-18-year-old kids are going to react,” said Western Dubuque coach Casey Bryant. “I thought our kids stayed focused and were ready to go.”
After Western Dubuque starter Sam Goodman recorded two strikeouts and picked off a lone baserunner in the top of the first, the Bobcats came to the plate in a steady rainfall.
Goodman drew a one-out walk, but was picked off by Ty Langenberg before Damon Jaeger drilled a triple to right-center. Kyle Lehmann was then hit by a pitch and Zach Bierman walked to load the bases.
When a low pitch from Langenberg got past catcher Gehrig Chistensen, it looked as if Jaeger would score, but when the ball rebounded to Langenberg, Jaeger was forced to return to his base. Meanwhile, Lehmann had advanced nearly to third, and was thrown out attempting to return to second base to end the inning.
“We had the bases loaded and didn’t get a break,” said Bryant. “That’s the second time we’ve had a wild pitch situation like that. Ninety-nine times out of 100 you score but it bounced right back to the pitcher, so it just wasn’t meant to be.”
With an inning complete, game officials suspended the contest, and the Bobcats had plenty of time to ponder a missed opportunity during the long delay.
“It was tough. After having the bases loaded in the first inning we were all pumped and ready to play,” said shortstop Matt Maiers. “We had a tough break with the delay, but there’s still no excuse. It was a long wait but we should have been ready to go.”
When play resumed, Bryant stuck with ace right-hander Goodman.
“We had a plan coming in to throw Sam 65 pitches and then go with Calvin,” he said. “After Sam warmed up he said he felt really good and we decided to stick with that plan. He came out after the delay and wasn’t quite as sharp. He got a little wild for three or four batters and that was all it took.”
“He’s a senior, he wanted the ball and he’s been great for us,” added Bryant. “So really, there wasn’t much of a decision.”
Goodman walked the first two Urbandale hitters he faced in the second, and when the J-Hawks attempted to bunt the runners ahead, designated hitter Cal Watson was safe at first to load the bases.
Lucas Strain drove home the first run of the game with a sharp single to left, and Alex Augustine was hit by a pitch to make it 2-0. Urbandale’s Josh Neyens’ ground ball to deep short was gloved by Maiers who threw from his knees to second for a force, but another run scored to make it 3-0. That was all the damage done as Goodman got a bases-loaded strikeout of Christensen to end the inning.
“A rain delay is never ideal, but at the end of the day I’m not going to make excuses for the way the game went,” said Goodman. “We went out and competed and tried to play our best brand of baseball, but tonight it just wasn’t good enough.”
Urbandale elected not to bring back Ty Langenberg after the delay, but Tucker Langenberg had the Bobcats seeing double, holding them hitless until the sixth inning, when Calvin Harris lined a single to left-center.
Goodman followed with a ground ball that led to Harris being tagged out at second on a tight play, but when Jaeger was hit by a pitch, the Bobcats were in business with one out. Lehmann’s ground ball to first was juggled before Kip Cullinan tossed to Tucker Langenberg for the out on a close play as Goodman and Jaeger advanced. Bierman then popped out to right on the first pitch to end the inning.
Harris replaced Goodman with one out in the fourth and limited the J-Hawks to a pair of hits in 3 2/3 innings. When he struck out Christensen and Cullinan to end the Urbandale seventh, the Bobcats managed to make things interesting in the bottom of the inning.
Maiers’ clutch two-out double and Ben Bryant’s four-pitch walk gave the Bobcats a pair of baserunners and new life with the top of the Bobcat order marching to the plate.
“I just told myself I wasn’t going to make the last out of my senior season,” said Maiers. “I was looking either fastball or changeup, and he left a fastball over the plate and I just turned on it.”
Urbandale then made a pitching change — bringing back ace Ty Langenberg — and got a game-ending ground ball from Harris.
“Give Urbandale credit for taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them,” said Coach Bryant. “They made all the plays. We hit the ball right on the nose.”
“Both teams played well — there was only one error in the ballgame. All four pitchers really competed, the defenses played well and the offenses battled like crazy,” added Bryant. “Urbandale did what they needed to do. They strung some things together and we didn’t.”
Western Dubuque — ending the year in Des Moines for the second season in a row — finished 32-10, while Urbandale defeated Johnston in the Class 4A championship to win back-to-back titles, finishing 31-14.