Defending state champion West Des Moines Dowling Catholic moved another step closer to returning to play at state at Principal Park.
Winning Bobby LeWarne allowed only two hits as Dowling defeated Hoover 9-0 in a Class 4-A substate first-round game at Dowling. Rob Harvey had a double and three hits. Vince Driscoll scored two runs for the Maroons.
The Maroons now earn a second-round bye and will be just one win from their fourth straight state tournament appearance.
“It’s a brand-new year and it’s a little bit different team,” coach Tim O’Neill said. “The kids are playing with confidence and are excited to make a mark for themselves.”
Dowling owns a nine-game winning streak and is ranked sixth in Class 4-A with a 31-10 record. O’Neill attributes their success to a “solid pitching staff and a team effort. Everyone has really chipped in.”
Dowling will face the Urbandale-Johnston winner in a substate final at home Wednesday.
“This is the CIML,” O’Neill said. “It’s the best conference in the state. We are going to have a battle on our hands no matter who we play. We just have to keep doing what we do, which is stick to the fundamentals.”