GLENWOOD – For a moment there, it appeared that the CAM baseball team was going to take a page out of the Atlantic softball team’s book of extra-inning magic.
Unlike the Trojans’ 11th-inning first-round state tournament victory over Anamosa that saw them rally twice and finally get the win, Council Bluffs St. Albert had a different script to write in Tuesday’s Iowa Class 1A substate final.
Down 5-2 and down to their final out, the Cougars connected on back-to-back home runs – a two-run shot by Lane Spieker and a solo shot by Colby Rich to tie the game and force an eighth inning.
It was there where the Falcons went on a final surge, using a two-run RBI by Isaac Sherrill and a run-scoring single by Brendan Monahan to re-establish the three-run advantage. The Falcons then held firm in the bottom half of the inning to come away with the state tournament-clinching 8-5 win and deny the Cougars for the second year in a row.
“We knew we needed to get guys on base for Lane and Colby,” said Cougar coach Dan Daugherty. “We got one for Lane and Colby got the solo.
“We battled. Even though we were down three, we battled until the end.”
A year ago, St. Albert won over CAM 9-3 in a substate final at Clarinda. This time around, the Falcons had to overcome six errors and a gritty effort by the Cougars to win a trip to next week’s state tournament in Carroll.
The Cougars drew first blood in the second inning when Seth Hensley’s infield hit drove in Cade Ticknor. But the Falcons plated three in the top half of the third, loading the bases with a hit batter and back-to-back walks. After Sherrill scored on a wild pitch, Brett Klusman had a RBI single to score both Monahan and Cy Patterson.
CAM came back in the bottom of the third with a single by Spieker that he extended by two extra bases on an outfield error, then came home on Ticknor’s single to left.
St. Albert plated its final two runs in regulation when Sherrill and Patterson scored on back-to-back singles. Sherrill was the offensive player of the night for the Falcons with three runs, three hits and three RBIs.
The Falcons were looking to slam the door shut in the top of the seventh as Sherrill and Monahan each reached, but Spieker, the third pitcher for the Cougars on the night, coaxed a grounder to first and got a strikeout to give his team the opportunity to keep the game going.
After the exchange of wild half-innings, the Cougars got a one-out walk by Hensley, but Patterson struck out the final two to set off the Falcon celebration.
CAM ended the season 25-7 and finished as Rolling Valley Conference champions. Spieker ended with three hits and a pair of RBIs, while Ticknor had two runs. Connor McKee was the lone senior on the team, meaning Daugherty has a ton of returning talent to make a big run in 2022.
“Connor did a great job for us this year. We’ve got a ton of juniors coming back next year,” said Daugherty.
State tournament pairings for Class 1A and 2A schools were set to be announced today by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. Class 3A and 4A substate finals are set for tonight statewide.