Dodgers out-slug Ames
AMES – JC Hatcher was determined not to let his Fort Dodge baseball career come to end.
Behind a standout offensive performance from Hatcher, the Dodgers (24-18 overall) out-slugged Ames by an 11-7 count in a Class 4A, Substate 1 semifinal Monday night at Brookside Park.
With another trip to Principal Park on the line, FDSH will now visit sixth-ranked West Des Moines Dowling (28-10) in a substate final Wednesday at 7 p.m. During the regular season, the Dodgers and Maroons split their two meetings.
Hatcher, a senior and No. 3 batter, finished 4-for-5 with his first two longballs of the year, seven RBI and two runs scored. Both of his homers were three-run shots.
The Iowa Central recruit entered the night with one varsity round-tripper.
“It feels good, especially since this could’ve been my last game,” said Hatcher, who also worked a hitless seventh inning in relief to seal the victory. “We’ve been preparing for a hard pitcher like (Matt Flummerfelt), and I was just able to get my pitches.
“This was obviously a big win for us.”
Seniors Cory Alexander and Andrew Stover each contributed a pair of hits for the Dodgers, who were swept in four games by the Little Cyclones (23-16) earlier this summer in CIC Northern Division play. Junior Austin Halligan, Alexander and sophomore Sam Cook all crossed the dish twice for FDSH.
Kole Kampen launched a one-out solo blast of his own to right field in the fourth, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead after Ames briefly rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the contest on an Erik Dempsey dinger.
Kampen (3-3) posted the victory on the mound, scattering seven hits and seven earned runs over six innings. The sophomore southpaw walked two and fanned six.
“What more can I say about Kole?” Fort Dodge head coach Blake Utley said. “He came in and pitched his tail off and helped his own cause, too.
“Ames is a very good baseball team. Even though we got up three runs early, I knew (Monday) was a night that was going to come down to seven innings. I respect the heck out of (the Little Cyclone) coaches and program. No lead is ever safe against them, especially with the wind blowing out (in Brookside Park).”
Trailing by the slimmest of margins, the Dodgers erupted for six runs on four hits in the sixth, sending 11 hitters to the plate. Fort Dodge also took full advantage of three pivotal Ames errors to gain control.
Drew Hansen’s bloop RBI single scored Cook with the tying run, while Halligan’s sacrifice fly to left brought home courtesy runner Lance Williamson with the go-ahead tally.
“Errors can really snowball on you,” said Utley. “That (sixth inning) was the difference in the game. One of our goals was no errors, and we didn’t have any.”
Dempsey went 2-for-4 with three RBI for Ames, which had won eight of the previous nine games against the Dodgers and all four meetings during the regular season. Rylan Rudd and Chris Sorrentino each scored twice for the home team.
Ames actually brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth with runners at second and third, but Kampen escaped trouble with a key strikeout.
“I was a little worried when were up 10-7, but once Kole struck out (Joe) Bappe, I knew we had the game won,” Hatcher said.
Fielding-wise, the Dodgers turned a 6-3 double play from Stover to Thomas Hartley in the seventh.
After firing a three-hit shutout against FDSH back on June 23, Flummerfelt (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season.