By Brenden West Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — MAQUOKETA -- An inning into Wednesday’s substate baseball game, it looked as though Central DeWitt and Davenport Assumption were in for a long, back-and-forth slugfest. Both teams knocked three hits and a run in the opening frame, making it 1-1 after one.
From there, the Sabers’ bats slowed and the Knights’ appeared ceaseless. Assumption pitcher Andrew Quested held DeWitt to two more hits the rest of the game. His teammates tallied 14 more to finish with 17 on the night.
The first inning was as even as it got for the Sabers, who fell 10-2. Assumption earned a state berth, the team’s first since 2008 and first as a Class 3A team.
“I thought we’d be able to compete with them,” DeWitt coach Shane Sikkema said. The Sabers played up to midnight on Monday in the District 5 final, but he said that had no effect on Wednesday’s outcome.
“We’d given up runs in the first inning a few times this season, so it wasn’t something new. You’d always like to score a few more runs.”
Knights coach Billy Argo said: “They were getting on fastballs early. We knew they’d swing it up and down their lineup. My thought at that time was (Quested) is going to have to find his breaking ball and changeup. He did and kept them down all night.”
Assumption batted first after losing the home-field coin flip. Sabers starter Max Steffens sent down the first batter before surrendering three straight Knights hits. Zach Adrian put Assumption on board with an RBI single to left, scoring Jake Gervase.
The Sabers answered with a rally of their own in the bottom of the first. Austin Lechtenberg, Jake Thumann and T.J. Sikkema all singled to load the bases with one out. Assumption had the chance to end the inning scoreless, though, when A.J. Smith put the ball in play on an apparent fluke bunt. Quested mishandled the ball, allowing Smith to reach and a run to score, knotting it 1-1.
The Assumption bats continued to produce in the second. Colin Gould cracked a one-out double to the left-field gap. On the next play, first baseman T.J. Sikkema tried to double up Gould, who swiped third after a fielder’s choice; the throw sailed wide, and Gould gave the Knights the lead 2-1.
Sikkema’s error turned out to be the first of numerous miscues that plagued DeWitt. By game’s end, the Sabers wracked up five errors. All but one of them turned into Assumption scores.
The Knights made a fair share of mistakes as well -- two errors leading to both DeWitt runs. But with five players having multi-hit games, the fumbles were less costly. Quested escaped five out of seven scoreless innings, finishing with five strikeouts and no earned runs allowed.
Adrian led all hitters with four hits and four RBIs. He punctuated Assumption’s bid for state with a three-run homer in the sixth, making the score 8-2.
A 32-win season is over in DeWitt. Despite falling short of state, Shane Sikkema spoke praises of his club.
“There’s only 16 teams tonight playing in 3A,” he said. “We won 32 games -- a school record. ... Our seniors stuck it out for five years. They were great leaders for us when we were using a couple freshman pitchers.”
Sikkema was referring to graduated Sabers Lechtenberg, Thumann, Smith and Lucas Perdieu. He told the team after the game not to let the substate loss rule their feelings on the record-setting year.
Meanwhile, Assumption continues its run to Des Moines. The Knights are the No. 5 seed and will face fourth seed Boone at noon Tuesday at Principal Park.
DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION 10, CENTRAL DEWITT 2
Assumption 113 003 2 -- 10 17 3
DeWitt 100 010 0 -- 2 5 5
Andrew Quested (7 ip, 5 h, 2 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 5 so) and Zach Adrian; Max Steffens (2 2/3 ip, 10 h, 5 r, 3 er, 0 bb), A.J. Smith (4 1/3 ip, 7 h, 5 r, 3 er, 0 bb, 1 so) and Jake Thumann. Multiple hits -- Assumption (Jake Gervase 2, Elliott Duax 3, Zach Adrian 4, Cayton Wallace 2, Colin Gould 3). 2B -- Assumption (Duax, Wallace), DeWitt (Grant Henning). HR -- Assumption (Adrian). RBIs -- Assumption (Duax 2, Adrian 4, Ryan Dobek, Gould, Sam Bennett).