FORT MADISON — Looking for another trip to a 3A substate final, the Central DeWitt baseball team opened Monday’s semifinal against Fort Madison with a bang.
And it was not the only one.
Hitters of just three home runs during the regular season, Central DeWitt slammed two against the Bloodhounds, including one right away in the first inning, to set the tone in a 5-1 victory.
The win sends the Sabers to their fourth straight substate final and sets up another chapter in the program’s postseason rivalry with Davenport Assumption. The Sabers and Knights will meet Wednesday in a 3A Substate 4 final at Kent-Stein Park in Muscatine, first pitch set for 7 p.m. It will be the ninth postseason meeting between the two teams since 2009 — they have split the previous eight games.
Central DeWitt will look to duplicate its start from Monday’s semifinal.
After a lineout to open the game, Sabers senior Boomer Johnson blasted the second pitch he saw over the fence in center field for a solo home run.
Freshman starter Nic Reemtsma followed with a one-two-three bottom of the first and the Sabers went back to work in the second.
Freshman Jacob Maher opened the frame by socking a double, was moved over to third on a groundout by Koal Bossom and scored on a passed ball.
Two innings later, Maher did himself one better, ending his full-count at-bat by launching his own solo home run to center.
Kaiden Muhl turned a lead-off double into a fourth run in the fourth and then scored a final run in the seventh on a two-out single by pinch hitter Kyle Bixby.
That was more than enough support for Reemtsma, who had more strikeouts (three) than hits allowed (two) until the Bloodhounds found some success in the sixth inning, using three straight singles to load the bases. The freshman, though, teamed with relief pitcher Noah Thein to induce a pair of fly-outs and get out of the inning unscathed.
Fort Madison threatened again in the seventh, opening the frame with a single and a hit batsman and scoring their first run on a second single. That hit, however, proved to be the final one of the game, as Thein got the next two batters to fly out to end the game.
Maher and Muhl each went 2-for-3 at the plate and combined for four of the team’s five runs. Maher’s home run helped him drive in a run for good measure with Johnson’s first-inning blast giving him a run and RBI as well.
Central DeWitt earned its meeting with Fort Madison behind a dominant 11-1 victory over Fairfield in the substate quarterfinals the Friday prior.
Two big innings for the Sabers offense proved to be the difference.
The hosts quickly answered a Trojans run in the first inning by scoring four times in the bottom of the frame.
Central DeWitt added to that lead and ultimately wrapped things up in the sixth, plating six runs to invoke the mercy rule.
Ben Mason, the Sabers’ leadoff hitter, opened the bottom half of the first by reaching on an error and was moved to third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a Henry Bloom single.
Thein followed with his own hit and both Sabers moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Maher made those extra bases hurt as his double scored both Bloom and Thein and made it 3-1.
Maher would add a fourth run three batters later as John McConohy clubbed his own double.
Muhl set the tone in the Sabers’ six-run sixth with a lead-off double. Mason added a bunt single and Johnson drove both players in with a double.
A Fairfield error and a fielder’s choice plated another run, while Maher struck again with a single to bring in Bloom. A sacrifice fly for Koal Bossom made it 10-1 and McConohy wrapped things up with a single to score Maher.
The Sabers finished with 11 hits, over half of them being doubles. Bloom, Maher and McConohy all had two hits and combined for seven RBIs. Bloom and Maher both scored twice as well.
After surrendering Fairfield’s first-inning run, Johnson locked down the Trojans on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.
The Sabers closed their regular season with back-to-back doubleheaders against Davenport West and Dubuque Senior.
Central DeWitt worked overtime in the opener with the Falcons, breaking a 4-4 tie in the top of the ninth inning for a 5-4 victory.
The Falcons earned the split in the nightcap, erupting for 10 runs in the first two innings of a 12-4 win.
The Sabers had already broken one tie in game one — briefly taking a 4-3 lead in the sixth when Bixby drove in courtesy runner Tyler Herington (running for Thein who opened the frame with a single) — when Mason led off the top of the ninth with a double.
The Falcons elected to intentionally walk Johnson, but Bloom followed with a single to score Mason and give Central DeWitt the lead for good.
Mason and Bloom each had three hits to lead the way at the plate, while Johnson, Maher and Thein all added two hits.
Thein earned the victory in relief. He and Bixby, who started the game, combined for nine strikeouts.
Bossom led the charge on offense in game two, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Bloom added two hits, while Johnson both drove in and scored a run.
A day later, the Sabers had trouble finding runs in a pair of low-scoring games with Dubuque Senior.
The Rams made individual runs in the first and seventh innings hold up in a 2-0 victory before making it a sweep with a 5-1 win in the nightcap.
Muhl scored the Sabers’ run in game two. The senior hit a lead-off single, advanced to second on a balk and eventually came home on a passed ball.
That inning-opening single was one of four hits for the Sabers. Mason accounted for half of them, while Bloom joined Muhl with his own single.
Central DeWitt had four hits in the opener as well with Thein, Bossom, McConohy and Sean McNamara all coming up with one.