Little by little, Burlington chipped away at the West High baseball team’s lead.
Little by little, West (30-11) ultimately shut the door on Burlington (15-18-1) en route to an 8-5 win Friday in a Class 4A first round substate game in Iowa City.
The Trojans staked out an early 4-0 advantage after two innings, adding two runs in the third and two in the sixth. Burlington scored twice in the third, once in the fourth and twice in the sixth.
That makes 17 wins in the last 19 games for West.
“We put up a couple goose eggs in the fifth and sixth, but offensively, this was very good,” West coach Charlie Stumpff said. “It was a great day to hit with the heat and some of those hits carried.”
Izaya Ono-Fullard set the tone for the Trojans in the opening frame, launching a solo home run over the left-field fence. Later in the inning, Nate Disterhoft ripped an RBI double and Joe Scott singled home Disterhoft.
Kevin DeLaney went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI to also help pace Stumpff’s club. DeLaney recorded all four at-bats on just five pitches. Connor McCaffery went 3-for-3, Tanner Lohaus went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Scott and Ono-Fullard finished 2-for-3 and 1-for-3 with two RBI, respectively.
If the West offense can sustain an opponent’s unending rally like Burlington’s, look out.
“We started hitting the ball well right away, and we hit the ball well in every inning except for the two we didn’t score in,” Ono-Fullard said.
Austin Miller toed the rubber in the start for the Trojans. Miller (7-2) pitched four innings, allowing three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out four.
Ono-Fullard threw the next two innings out of the bullpen and Tanner Lohaus tossed a scoreless seventh for the save. Lohaus is still projected to start next week in a substate semifinal.
“The zone was getting a little tight on me in the third and fourth, but I battled through it and I had a great defense behind me tonight,” Miller said. “The main thing is to get ahead in the count and then you can do whatever you want.”
The makeup of this Trojans team varied throughout the season, especially with four sophomores in the starting lineup, but one aspect is certain — West can grind to victory.
Despite a comeback attempt from the other dugout, West will put up the stop sign as it has done all summer. Just like Friday against Burlington.
“We’ve done that all year,” Stumpff said. “There’s been many, many games like this. It helps your psyche. We keep moving and keep grinding, and that’s hard sometimes because you can get down on yourself. Hopefully we keep moving.”
Reach Matt Cozzi at email@example.com or 319-887-5409 and follow him on Twitter at @matt_cozzi.