Only Kevin DeLaney could achieve a feat so rare and people around him still weren’t surprised.
DeLaney pushed the West High baseball team to a 14-7 win Monday over Ottumwa in a Class 4A substate semifinal in Iowa City. West (31-11) moves on to play at Cedar Rapids Prairie (30-7) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the final.
The senior hit for the cycle, which is not unfathomable given DeLaney’s prowess this season. Including Monday’s performance, he is fifth in the state in hits with 65 in 36 games, hitting at a .478 clip. The center fielder regularly swings at the first or second pitch of an at-bat, tallying hits at an aggressive rate.
But how the hits were recorded Monday will be remembered for a while.
DeLaney hit for the cycle in order: single, double, triple, home run. He finished 4-for-5 with five RBI and three runs scored against the Bulldogs (25-16).
“I knew I hit the single, double, and triple, and when I got to the dugout after I tripled, everyone said ‘You’re going for the cycle,’” DeLaney said. “That fourth-at-bat, I hit it, and I kind of knew it was gone right after I hit it, too. That’s kind of ridiculous (to hit for the cycle in order). No one expects to do that.”
West coach Charlie Stumpff — in his 16th year at the helm of the Trojans — couldn’t remember the last time a player in his program hit for the cycle, much less to do it in sequence.
“I’ve seen so few of them, I’m trying to think of the last cycle,” Stumpff said. “I don’t even know if we’ve had one here. It’s really hard to get. To do it in order is incredible. Kevin was just flying around the bases. That’s really neat for him and he enjoyed the heck out of it.”
West’s offensive output was impressive Monday as Stumpff’s club scored 14 runs on 12 hits. They scored one run in the first, six in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth, and three in the fifth.
If not for DeLaney’s historic performance, Connor McCaffery would have easily been the headliner. Even so, the sophomore left a mark, including one on the light pole beyond the right field fence on his two-run home run in the second inning. McCaffery hit another ball the same distance toward right — probably about 375 feet — in his fourth at-bat in the fifth, but the ball traveled foul.
There was indication of McCaffery’s power outburst — he hit eight home runs in batting practice Monday morning.
“When you have a good (batting practice) round like that, you’re swinging the bat well, and the wind is blowing out to right a little bit, you’re pretty excited going into the game,” McCaffery said. “I was feeling really good and wanted to carry that into my at-bats.
“(Ottumwa pitcher Aaron Roane) got behind me 1-0, so I knew he was coming with something to get back in the count. I tried to sit back and I hit a home run.”
West has won 18 out of its last 20 games.
The offense is clicking, as is the pitching and defense. Tanner Lohaus struggled to command the strike zone Monday with five walks in 4 1/3 innings, but Zach McLean, Izaya Ono-Fullard and Shane Sturtz combined to shut the door on Ottumwa, allowing no walks and striking out five in the final 2 2/3 innings.
Add a little history to the mix by DeLaney, and West is on track to return to the state tournament with a win Wednesday.
“Kevin’s been hitting balls incredibly hard lately,” Stumpff said. “This is a good park to do it in with a deep center field for triple opportunities and a short porch in right for home run opportunities. He’s just been amazing this year.
“We’ve had a lot of good offensive performers over time, but what he’s doing is way up there.”
Reach Matt Cozzi at email@example.com or 319-887-5409, and follow him on Twitter at @matt_cozzi.