Dodgers dig deep, stun North

SIOUX CITY – It’s a baseball adage as old as the game itself.

There is no time clock.

Because of that, Fort Dodge will play on in the postseason.

After being held to just one hit through six innings, the Dodgers plated two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the contest and keep their year alive. A single run in the eighth then led to a 3-2 victory over Sioux City North in a Class 4A sub-state quarterfinal at Lewis and Clark Park Friday night.

The win propels the Dodgers (23-18 overall) into a Substate 1 semifinal on Monday night at Ames. The Little Cyclones (23-15) ousted Siuox City East on Friday, 4-2.

The winner will take on Dowling (28-10)?in a substate final on Wednesday in West Des Moines. The Maroons survived against Sioux City West, 2-1, in 11 innings last night.

“That’s why we play all seven innings,” FDSH head coach Blake Utley said to his squad as the Dodgers celebrated.

Fort Dodge scored the winning run in the top of the eighth on a bases-loaded wild pitch that let senior Andrew Stover score from third. Stover had singled to open the frame, before Kole Kampen drew a two-out walk and Cainen Hiracheta was hit by a pitch.

Dodger senior JC Hatcher (7-2)?went the first seven innings, allowing both North runs and seven hits to earn the victory. Kampen struck out the side in the eighth for the save.

“JC didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, but he had enough to keep them at two (runs), which was big,” Utley said. “Kole was ready to roll in that eighth inning. When I asked him, he gave me a look that said ‘give me the ball.'”

North’s Robert Neustrom took the loss – his first of the season. The junior came in with a 5-0 record and 1.11 ERA.

The Stars were without all-stater Daniel Tillo, who was at a Nike basketball camp in Georgia.

North (25-15) got its only runs in the bottom of the second from the bottom of its order. Roy Baker and Ben Rodriguez singled with two outs, and No. 9 hitter Noah Weester belted an 0-2 pitch to the wall in left for a triple and a 2-0 advantage.

Hatcher avoided any more trouble, though, when he picked Weester off third base one pitch later.

The Dodgers finally got on the board in the top of the seventh.

Kampen reached on an error and Hiracheta was hit by a pitch. Sam Cook then came on as a pinch hitter and laid down a bunt, but North didn’t have anyone covering first base and the Dodgers had the bases loaded with no outs.

Drew Hansen gave the Dodgers their first run with a sacrifice fly, and courtesy runner Lance Williamson raced to third when the throw went all the way to the plate.

Austin Halligan blooped a single to left to score Wiliamson, but in the process, Halligan passed Cook on the bases and Cook was called out. A groundout ended the frame with the score tied.

“I can’t say enough about Sam Cook,” said Utley. “Here’s a kid that sits for seven innings and then comes through when he’s called on.

“I knew when we started putting pressure on them that good things would happen for the Dodgers.”

Utley said Fort Dodge actually started to relax when Hiracheta belted a hard foul down the first-base line in the seventh.

“That showed us (Neustrom) wasn’t unhittable,” said Utley. “I knew it would take a while for us to settle down.

“We had a lot of kids playing in their first tournament game. That loosened us up.”

Fort Dodge’s best threat before the seventh came in the third, when the Dodgers left runners at second and third. They also stranded a runner at second base in the first and sixth innings.

Hatcher worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third and he left two on in the bottom of the seventh.

North left 10 runners on base. The Dodgers stranded eight.

Fort Dodge lost all four games with the Little Cyclones this year. They fell 8-7 and 17-4 at Dodger Stadium this past Monday and fell by identical 3-0 counts in Ames on June 23.

“Now we move on and our focus is on Ames,” said Utley. “We’ll take it one game at a time.”