What a game.
In a back-and-forth contest with multiple high-leverage situations, the City High and West High baseball teams traded jabs all night before West (22-10) scored with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth inning for an 8-7 win over City (18-14-1) Monday at Mercer Park in Iowa City.
“Coming out on top is a testament to our guys,” West coach Charlie Stumpff said. “We got ahead, lost it, then fought through it. You always like to see that. There’s going to be tough times in a game.”
Spencer Wiskus drew a walk to lead off the ninth for the Trojans and moved to second on Connor McCaffery’s groundout. Nate Disterhoft then hit a routine pop-up towards the middle of the infield, but City shortstop Caleb Sass dropped the ball as Disterhoft reached. Oliver Martin walked, Joe Scott struck out, and Tanner Lohaus walked, bringing home Wiskus.
Izaya Ono-Fullard — who entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning for West — walked Nick Sueppel to start the bottom of the ninth, but induced a fly-out, ground-out and pop-out thereafter to shut the door on the Little Hawks.
Ono-Fullard was more than effective out of the bullpen, allowing no runs on one hit while walking two and striking out five in 32/3 innings. His fastball topped out at 86 mph. The sophomore began the year as a starter, but recently moved to a relief role.
“Izaya was marvelous,” Stumpff said. “We moved him to closer, hoping we would get this kind of stuff, and he really settled in. That was some electric stuff that he had out there.”
“You need to be ready to come in and it’s a close game,” Ono-Fullard added. “I like the pressure, I like that the game is in my hands. It’s just a lot more fun.”
Trailing 5-2, City scored five runs on five hits in the fifth inning. Ten batters stepped to the plate in the frame as coach Brian Mitchell’s club took a 7-5 lead.
The advantage was short, however, as West struck back with two runs to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
“It was a good high school game,” Mitchell said. “We have the talent, we gave a great effort. We have to believe in ourselves and find ways to come through. There are a few things here and there that we probably could have cleaned up, but the bottom line is we fought until the end and we gave it everything we had. I’m proud of our guys.”
Kevin DeLaney helped pace the Trojans offensively, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. Wiskus went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI. Disterhoft hit a two-RBI double.
For City, Griffin Fellows finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Matt Hensley went 2-for-5. Brett McCleary hit a two-RBI double off the left field wall in the fifth. Sueppel pitched 32/3 innings out of the bullpen in a losing effort, walking five and striking out five.
If this wasn’t clear prior to Monday’s action, then it is now: There isn’t a waning moment to be had on the diamond between these two teams.
At least not this year.
“Anytime you play City, our guys are going to be up for it,” Stumpff said. “You get Game 1 and you get greedy. Hopefully (Tuesday) our guys will come out with the same energy.”
Reach Matt Cozzi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-887-5409, and follow him on Twitter at @matt_cozzi.