State baseball: North Polk tops defending champ Davis County

State baseball: North Polk tops defending champ Davis County

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State baseball: North Polk tops defending champ Davis County

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Baseball has bonded stepson and stepfather, player and coach.
North Polk’s Wyatt Johnson stepped up to bat in the seventh inning and delivered a game-winning single in his team’s 2-1 win against defending state champion Davis County of Bloomfield in a Class 2-A semifinal at Principal Park.
Johnson, a sophomore whose varsity hitting career numbers were 1-for-4 before Thursday, drove in Kory Gioffredi with the game-winning run to hand Davis County its second loss of the season.
Johnson and his stepfather, North Polk coach Dave Middleton, celebrated together.
The two of them have known each other since Johnson was 7. They shared the game, playing catch or soft-toss hitting in a shed.
“It’s a good time, adult-kid time,” Middleton said.
North Polk’s Grant Lang gave up a run and five hits in six innings, improving his record to 8-1 this season. Jacob Hadaway pitched the final inning, picking up the save.
The Comets (31-4) advanced to play Beckman of Dyersville in the championship game at noon Saturday. Davis County finished 42-2.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning. North Polk’s Reed Smith and Noah Pickard had back-to-back doubles. Davis County’s Josey Garmon singled in Jacob Davidson.
In the seventh, North Polk’s Wyatt Houge reached second base on an error and was replaced by Gioffredi.
Middleton called on No. 24, Johnson, who had sat on the bench for the entire state tournament. Johnson had been hitting the ball well in practice, though. Find a pitch you like, he told his stepson.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to play,” Johnson said. “I was called up for districts. Before that, I hadn’t hit varsity.”
His assignment: Face the state’s top pitcher with two outs and the game-winning run in scoring position.
“I was really excited to get the chance,” Johnson said.
Davis County’s Calvin Mathews had a 15-0 record this season and was closing in on 200 strikeouts. The state’s Gatorade Player of the Year has signed with Iowa.
“Something was bound to happen,” Mathews said.
Johnson singled into right field, scoring a leg-churning Gioffredi.
North Polk’s Hadaway shut down Davis County in the bottom of the inning to send his team to the state final for the third time in school history. The 1998 and 2006 squads were state runners-up.
Mathews threw a seven-hitter and struck out 12 in the loss. He compiled a 27-2 record with 345 strikeouts during the past two seasons.
“It’s been a great season and we’re in the state tournament for the third year,” Mathews said. “It’s been a good high school career.”
Davis County went 33-4 last season while winning the 2-A championship.
“It was an awesome year, the whole community supported us,” Davis County coach Todd White said. “It’s been a great run.”
Both teams used strong defensive play to keep the score low. North Polk used the hidden ball trick to force out a runner on second base in the sixth inning.
The outcome for North Polk was a lesson on how even the team’s least experienced player can contribute in a big way.
“It takes 24 players,” Middleton said.
North Polk 100 000 1–2 7 1
Davis County 100 000 0–1 6 2

Leading hitters–N: C.Cory 2×3, Houge 2×3; D: Davidson 2×3. W–Lang. L–Mathews. S–Hadaway.

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State baseball: North Polk tops defending champ Davis County
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