Dodgers pass first test

Tournament play opened just how the Fort Dodge baseball team envisioned here Friday night.

In a Class 4A, Substate 2 quarterfinal, the Dodgers (26-14 overall) doubled up Mason City by a 4-2 count at Rogers Sports Complex. During the regular season, CIC Northern Division champion FDSH prevailed in three of the four conference meetings against their long-time rivals.

“It’s win or go home at this point, so it doesn’t matter if you win by one run or by 20 runs,” FDSH head coach Blake Utley said. “Our guys came out and put some pressure on (the Mohawks) right away. We had solid pitching, defense and timely hitting, which are the three areas that we always preach about.”

Waukee (27-13) now awaits the Dodgers in a 4A, Substate 2 semifinal Monday at 7 p.m. in Carroll. The Warriors, who swept FDSH earlier this summer, advanced on Friday with a 6-1 victory over Ames.

Senior Tyler Vaughn (7-4) went the distance on the mound for the 2012 state runner-up Dodgers, scattering nine hits and one earned run. Vaughn, who also notched two complete game wins against the Mohawks this year in league action, walked one and fanned seven.

“(Last night) was probably the best I’ve thrown my changeup all year,” said Vaughn, who came into Friday with a 2.82 ERA on the season. “(Mason City) has really improved their hitting tremendously since the first time we faced them (on June 10 at Ed McNeil Field), and we knew that after losing to them the last time (July 1 in Mason City).”

“It’s always fun to go out there and beat your rivals. You can’t get to the second round without winning that first one.”

FDSH, which collected seven hits in the contest, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, taking advantage of a fielding miscue by the Mohawk third baseman and a sacrifice fly from Devon Harms. Mason City then eventually rallied to tie the contest, before the Dodgers plated a pair of unanswered runs in the fourth.

Keegan Gormally, another Fort Dodge senior, went 2-for-3 offensively with a RBI out of the No. 9 spot in the order. Sophomore Austin Halligan reached base three times, including a single and two runs scored.

Older brother Tommy Halligan posted a single and RBI, while Cory Alexander and Kole Kampen both crossed the dish twice. Kampen’s score followed a leadoff triple to deep center field in the fourth.

“Mason City got stronger as the season went on, and you can’t judge them just by their record,” Utley said. “I thought our guys competed real hard. We also had a great Dodger crowd that came out (to Rogers Sports Complex) and supported us.”

Tyler Moorehead finished 3-for-4 for the Mohawks (16-25), while Colton Staudt recorded a pair of hits and a RBI.

Mason City had two baserunners picked off first base in the first two frames alone.

Defensively, the Dodgers ended the game with a smooth 6-3 double play from JC Hatcher to Andrew Stover.

After suffering five consecutive setbacks, FDSH has now reeled off five triumphs in a row.

“Hopefully, our fans will make the short drive over to Carroll and watch us play on a great facility Monday night,” said Utley. “The Dodgers will be ready to go.”

Monday’s Fort Dodge/Waukee winner will move on to battle reigning state champion and No. 1 Ankeny (32-7) in a 4A, Substate 2 final Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Ankeny.