DES MOINES– In the stifling heat and absurd humidity the West High Trojans remained cool under fire.
And cool under ammonia towels in the dugout.
With the heat index north of 100 degrees, the Trojans battled back from an early deficit to scrub the Rams of Southeast Polk 6-3 in a Class 4A State Quarterfinal game last Tuesday at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The Rams scored in the top of the first inning with two on and an RBI single. It would be SE Polk’s only run until a two-run homer in the seventh. In between, West’s six runs came two apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
A Spence Bonner sacrifice fly ball in the bottom of the fourth brought in Nate Ewing with the bases loaded. Those full bases and a walk on Ezra Reiners led to Ryan Rumpf scoring. In the fifth, Ewing walked as did Rumpf and Siems to load up the bases again as the Rams changed pitchers. Spence Bonner came to the plate and ended up taking a stroll to first, with Ewing walking home to make room. A sacrifice fly ball to center field by Jeremy Cronk scored Rumpf. Siems almost made it a three-run inning but was gunned down at the plate.
Franz singled in the sixth and came home on an RBI double by Aaron Peller. Ewing went for a single but ended up reaching on an error, which brought Peller home for an unearned run.
Ewing led West with two hits and two runs, Bonner had two RBIs, Reiners and Cronk had an RBI each, while Peller had one hit and one RBI. Rumpf had one hit and two runs.
On the mound Cronk worked just over five innings giving up four hits, one run, struck out six and hit three batters. Connor Schreck relieved Cronk for two-thirds of an inning striking out one. Rumpf, who is still on the mend from a season-long shoulder issue, came to the mound to close-out the Trojans’ day. Rumpf gave up two hits and the two-run homer.
Coach Charlie Stumpff talked after the game about his pitchers.
“Jeremy was outstanding. We heard they were a fastball hitting team, so maybe it wasn’t going to be the best match-up because he’s a power fastball pitcher.” Stumpff added Cronk threw “maybe 90% fastballs,” but “he’s got great sink.” He also acknowledged Rumpf’s struggles on the mound.
“Ryan’s been there so many times, but he’s had a bit of a shoulder issue and hasn’t been as sharp. But, he’ll work through it.” About the homer that bounced off of the right field fence, Stumpff said “I guess he wanted to make it a little tough on the old man.”
The win raised West’s record to 32-10 and set them on a collision course for Friday evening against West Des Moines Dowling (34-7) in a Semi-final match.