West High senior Colin Baker wasn’t about to have his season end prematurely in a Class 4A substate first-round baseball game on Friday at West High.
Baker drilled a two-out, two-run double into right field in the bottom of the sixth inning to help deliver a 4-2 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“He was locked in tonight,” West coach Charlie Stumpff said. “He was all in.”
With the win, No. 2 West High (33-7) advances to the Class 4A substate final Wednesday — against either Linn-Mar (25-15) or Cedar Rapids Kennedy (22-18) — at West.
“I knew we had it in us,” West junior Tyus Adkins said. “It just took a while to get going.”
The Trojans came in as the favorite, highly ranked and with a pair of wins over Jefferson (12-27) from June 21 (11-0 and 6-3).
Stumpff said his team knew the stakes.
“I don’t think it was we were taking anybody lightly,” Stumpff said. “Like I told the guys, if we were playing a best-of-seven, we’ll win. … But one game.”
Jefferson started freshman southpaw Spencer VanScoyoc and he handcuffed the Trojans for four innings. VanScoyoc gave up just one hit — an RBI single by Tanner Wilson in the third inning.
But by then, Jefferson already had built a 2-0 lead.
The J-Hawks used an error and an infield hit by Lucas Larson to plate a run in the second.
Then a hit batsman led to an RBI line drive down the third-base line by Ky Kramer to make it 2-0.
Stumpff stuck with Adkins, and the junior responded.
In the top of the fifth inning, the J-Hawks got a single from Marcus Colbert and Layne Sullivan drew a walk. A double steal put runners in scoring position.
“I had to go get them myself,” Adkins said. “I had to pound the outside of the strike zone and make sure they don’t hit it.”
Adkins struck out the next two J-Hawks.
“That’s the ballgame there,” Stumpff said. “We’re struggling to score runs. He gets a strikeout to get out of it, you see the momentum.
“We felt momentum in the dugout on that pitch. Great job by Tyus.”
Adkins finished the game with six strikeouts to one walk and two hit batsmen. He scattered seven hits.
“I don’t panic when we’re down,” Adkins said. “We’ve had a couple games we’ve come back and won.”
West tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when Nate Boland reached on an error and scored on an RBI single by Greg Ludwig.
Tied 2-2, it set up Baker’s heroics in the bottom of the sixth.
The senior came up with two on and two out but wasn’t sweating.
“I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” Baker said. “I obviously knew we were in a tie game and we needed runs.
“I felt pretty confident.”
Baker then hit the only extra-base hit of the game, a double into left field and the home crowd went wild.
“He threw me a breaking ball,” Baker said. “I was able to wait back on it, shoot it down the right field line.
“It worked out for us. It turned out to be a big hit.”
The Trojans had just four hits against three J-Hawk pitchers, and all the hits came from the bottom (7-8-9) of the batting order. Baker hit 2-for-2.
“(Colin) has come up with big hit after big hit,” Stumpff said. “He’s done that the last couple years.”
West earned a bye in the semifinal round. The Trojans beat Kennedy 5-4 and 14-4 this season, and swept Linn-Mar 7-0 and 8-6.
The Trojans are aiming for their eighth trip to the state tournament, including their fifth straight.
Spencer VanScoyoc, Benjamin Koering (5), Dylan Wright (6) and Marcus Colbert; Tyus Adkins and Colin Baker. W – Adkins. L – Koering. 2B – Colin Baker (W).