LEON – Central Decatur’s baseball season came to a close Saturday night, losing to Mount Ayr (12-2) 11-6.
The Cardinals end the season 16-7, with a Pride of Iowa Conference record of 5-4 (fifth in the POI).
The loss brings the end to several seniors who have been important for Central Decatur athletics over the last few years. CD says a final farewell to Dakota Reed, Michel Evertsen, David Walker, Tate Hill and Isaac Hall.
“It’s tough to see them leave,” said CD head coach Shane Akers. “... We’re proud of them. The legacy they’ve left, they’ve done things. The positivity they bring, bringing underclassmen up and not ever giving up, that attitude has been huge for our program.”
When it comes to sharing his players this offseason with other CD teams, Akers encourages his guys to keep active and stay playing a sport, and will get them in “baseball shape” when the time is needed.
“We’ll try to get them in when we can. We let them go to open gym and shoot baskets in the summer, go to the practices when they can,” said Akers. “We try as a school to work together and support each other, ... hopefully they can continue to get better in the offseason.”
CD ends the season series 0-2 versus Mount Ayr, losing 3-1 to the Raiders July 3.
Long ball gives insurance
From first pitch, CD knew it was not going to be an easy game against Mount Ayr.
A leadoff walk to Mount Ayr’s Kolben Klommhaus, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball put Klommhaus in a spot to score on a 6-3 ground out to Michel Evertsen. Narrowly beating the throw from the first baseman on the play at home, the Raiders took a 1-0 lead.
A two-out setting for Jaixen Frost gave him an opportunity to extend the inning, doing so by the tune of a long solo homer out of left field.
Frost, who was went 2-for-3 with a double last time out against CD, was coming off a game where Lamoni refused to pitch to him – walking him intentionally three times. The first time he saw a pitch, he turned on it for a two-run homer.
Akers knew Frost was dangerous, and one slip up was would be a difference in getting him out or putting him on.
“At that point we were going to throw off-speed and mix it up on him,” said Akers. “... We got a mix up with the sign and threw a fast ball instead of a curveball and he hit it out.”
With MA holding a 2-0 lead into the first, Central Decatur scored three on a single to center by Evertsen, a passed ball and a Hill walk. The half inning sparked the Cardinal bench, giving the hometown team some life early in the game.
The Cards added another in the second inning to give itself a 4-2 lead entering the third inning. It was all the Cardinals got, as Mount Ayr surmounted a rally.
A Frost walk with the bases loaded scored a run, and an Austin Greenland fly ball was hit deep enough to score another to tie the game up at four apiece.
The Raiders and Cardinals left runners on in the fourth, moving to the Raiders to the second straight inning where they had the bases loaded.
With Frost up again, the Cardinals decided to pitch to him, and instantly regretted it as he sent a grand slam over the left field wall to break the game open at 8-4.
From there, the Raiders cruised. Two runs in the bottom of the fifth from Central Decatur on a throwing error and RBI single pulled the game back slightly, but RBIs from Cayden Lambert and Greenland pushed the score to 11-6 in favor of the Raiders.
Clawing back is not an unfamiliar feeling for CD, despite the 242-124 run differential this season. Trailing Moravia 7-3 in the middle of the second inning, CD ran off eight straight runs across three innings to win 11-7 to win the Class 2A District 1 semifinal.
Before that, CD rallied and forced extra innings against Nodaway Valley before beating the Wolverines in eight innings 8-7. However, the magic and ability to run off a string of runs or force extra innings ran out.
“It’s something we’ve done all year. We’ve been resilient, bounced back, overcame [deficits]. It’s just one pitch at a time, 90 feet at a time, and just continue to scratch and claw back as best we could,” said Akers.
On the bump, Michel Evertsen came on in relief in the second inning and worked for three innings, not allowing an earned run. David Walker started, going three innings, and was charged with four earned runs.
In total, CD gave out eight free passes (walks) to the Raiders, a figure Akers feels is too high, and put the Cardinals in a hole.
“Too many free bases. We got ourselves behind in the count, and its tough when your off-speed isn’t working. ... We kind of backed ourselves in a corner on the mound,” said Akers.
TJ Fallis had a multi-hit night, going 2-for-4. Evertsen had three hits, ending his CD career with a 3-for-5 game and RBI.
How they got there
To get to the district final, Central Decatur beat Moravia 11-7 Wednesday (July 14) in an 11-7 final.
Scoring came early in this game as well, with five runs going up on the board in the first inning for Moravia.
But, like Akers explained Saturday, playing from behind was nothing out of the ordinary for the team. CD clawed back with three of its own in the first inning, and allowed just two more runs in the second inning en route to eight unanswered runs scored.
Haden Leymaster scored on a wild pitch in the second to cut the deficit to one at 7-6, and an Evertsen singled to make the score 7-7 in the third inning puting CD in a position to strike.
The Cards left two on-base in the third, but broke the tie in the fourth with a Hill sacrifice fly to score a run.
A Matthew Boothe line drive scored two, breaking the game out to 10-7 with the Cardinals ahead. An Evertsen RBI single was the final run-scoring play for either side in the fourth inning.
Evertsen finished the day 3-for-4 with two RBIs. He also pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out six while allowing two earned runs for the winning decision.
Haden Leymaster provided a home run in the first inning, driving in three on the swing. He finished the day with five RBIs in a 2-for-3 showing.