WAUKEE, Ia. – As Malik Moore tried to casually trot off the field after the final home game of his prep career, a celebratory mob swept him back to the pitcher’s mound and to the bottom of a dogpile.
The senior ace’s one-hitter on Wednesday night was more than enough to carry No. 1 Waukee past local rival Valley and earn a repeat appearance in next week’s state tournament.
The Class 4-A Substate 2 final finished 5-0, giving the Warriors 19 straight victories and more momentum for a title push.
“We’re all really good friends, we play well together, and we know we can pull through,” Moore said. “I figured this could end up being a pretty good team.”
Waukee (36-4) completed its season sweep and shutout of the ninth-ranked Tigers, winning three games with three senior pitchers and not allowing a run.
Senior Jackson Plath broke up Moore’s no-hitter on Wednesday with a double in the sixth inning, but couldn’t start the comeback. Blake Salsbury was Valley’s only other baserunner of the night and got to first base on an error in the third.
“We were confident because we 10-runned our way to this point and thought we could give it a shot, but (Moore) just beat us,” Valley coach Ryan Cooley said.
“I was hoping we could get on the scoreboard early. Obviously he was better than us.”
Three runs in the bottom of the first inning got the Warriors all the scoring they’d need, but two more were hit home in the sixth to provide home-field insurance.
Junior Ben Ferkin went 3-for-3 batting last and Waukee mashed 11 hits to Valley’s one.
“Our chemistry has been great,” Ferkin said. “We’ve got a lot of trust in our guys. We’re hitting the ball like crazy and really backing up our pitchers. It’s working well.”
Valley (25-14) pitcher Peyton Long settled in after the difficult start. That was already too much of a head start for the lefty Moore, who finished with nine strikeouts and barely broke a sweat on a mild July evening in front of a supportive crowd.
“They’ve got three or four of the top pitchers in the state on that team, so any hits we could get would have helped,” Cooley said.
“Waukee’s got a senior-dominated team with strong pitching. They’ll give it a shot.”
Both teams advanced to Principal Park last season and lost in the quarterfinals. Waukee’s best finish was as runner-up in 2003.
“I know these seniors want it bad and I’m going to do everything I can to get a win for them,” Ferkin said.
Valley…000 000 0—0 1 0
Waukee…300 002 x—5 11 1
Hitting leaders—Ferkin 3×3, Moffitt 2×3. WP—Moore. LP—Long.