Bad things can happen when you don't put away a team of upstarts when you have the chance.
Xavier's baseball team found that out the hard way Monday night against Cedar Falls and its five sophomore starters.
The Tigers' Shawn Hagarty lined a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh that lifted Cedar Falls to a 4-3 win in a Class 4A substate semifinal game at Ken Charipar Field.
Cedar Falls (22-18) advances to play top-seeded Kennedy (31-6) in the substate final on Wednesday at Kennedy.
Cedar Falls was held hitless by Xavier sophomore Mitch Keller through the first four innings, but managed six hits over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Cedar Falls sophomore Jared Deines drove a one-out double in the Cedar Falls seventh. Xavier Coach Dave Schemmel brought in sophomore southpaw Adam Pick to pitch in place of senior Tyler Hines. Cedar Falls' Jack Sole was intentionally walked to set up a possible double play, bringing Hagarty to the plate.
Hagarty, the Tigers' No. 3 batter in the lineup, was 0-for-3 and had struck out in his last at-bat.
Pick got ahead of Hagarty with two quick strikes. But his third pitch?
"It was up just a little bit," Hagarty said. "After that strikeout the time before, I knew just had to put the bat on the ball. So I shortened my swing and took a deep breath."
And took the air out of Xavier's season.
"When you let a team like that hang around, you set yourself up for something like that to happen," Schemmel said.
Xavier (21-15) had 10 hits but stranded nine runners, seven in scoring position.
"You have to make solid contact when you get runners in scoring position and we didn't," Schemmel said. "That and they took advantage of every mistake we made."
Xavier had three errors and one misplayed pop fly that went for an RBI single in the fifth. Xavier had scored on an almost identical miscue in the top of the fifth.
Cedar Falls tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, 3-3, on an infield single during which the runner advanced to second on a throwing error. A sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly scored the tying run.
"They did the little dinky things that just ate us up," Schemmel said.
Xavier had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh. The Saints had runners at first and second with one out and had Zach Brown at the plate. Brown had hits in his first three at-bats, but this time he grounded out to third. Still, the runners moved up a base. Jordan Ratz then hit a long fly ball into the right-center gap that Cedar Falls right fielder Michael Kuntz chased down to end the inning.
"We had runners in scoring position a couple of times, but just couldn't get the hits," said Brown, who scored a run and twice was stranded at second.
After losing serve in the seventh, Xavier catcher Mack Mattke said the team may have lost a bit of its mental edge, even though the Saints went nine innings to win their first-round game Friday night against Waterloo West.
"Mentally, going into the seventh, it was tough," Mattke said. "But when Hines struck out the first guy it got us pumped up and thinking we were going to the eighth.
"(Hines) made a good 2-2 pitch (to Deines). It was on the outer black and the kid turned on it (for a double).
"You got to give it to them. They came through in the clutch."
Even though the Tigers won 22 games, they struggled through most of the Mississippi Valley Conference season, finishing in sixth place in the seven-team Valley Division with a 10-16 loop mark.
"With five sophomores you're going to struggle," Cedar Falls Coach Jack Sole said. "But they've grown up over the season. Now they're juniors."
And now the Tigers are one game away from the state tournament.
"Let's wait until after Wednesday to talk about that," Sole said. "Kennedy is as good as anybody we play."
Kennedy shutout Cedar Falls twice in their league doubleheader back on June 1. The Cougars won 12-0 and 10-0.
Corbin Woods, ss, 4 1 1 0, Bryce Grimm, cf, 4 0 2 0, Adam Pick, 1b-p, 3 0 1 1, Mack Mattke, c-1b, 3 0 0 0, Shane Herder, cr, 0 0 0 0, Zach Brown, 3b, 4 1 3 0, Jordan Ratz, rf, 3 0 0 0, Jacob Harriott, lf, 2 0 0 0, Luke Hammerberg, ph, 1 0 1 0, Ryan Meaney, lf, 0 0 0 0, Josh Tipton, dh, 2 1 1 1, Mitch Keller, p, 0 0 0 0, Tyler Hines, p, 0 0 0 0, Ben Helms, c, 0 0 0 0, Mitch St. Andrews, 2b, 2 0 1 0. Totals 28 3 10 2.
CEDAR FALLS (4)
Jared Deines, 1b, 4 1 2 1, Jack Sole, c, 3 0 0 0, Shawn Hagarty, ss, 4 0 1 1, Jared Farley, 3b, 3 1 1 0, Clinton Fletcher, dh, 2 0 0 0, Andrew Kloos, p, 0 0 0 0, Nick Hagedorn, p, 0 0 0 0, Dylan Paup, cf, 2 0 0 1, Jeffrey Daniels, lf, 2 1 1 0, Michael Kuntz, rf, 2 1 0 0, Colby Creger, 2b, 3 0 1 1. Totals 25 4 6 4.
Xavier 100 011 0 -- 3 10 3
Cedar Falls 000 021 1 -- 4 6 1
(One out when winning run scored)
Keller, Hines (5), Pick (7) and Mattke, Helms (7). Kloos, Hagedorn (7) and Sole. W - Hagedorn (2-3). L - Hines (2-2). 2B - Grimm (5), Brown (11), Deines (4), Daniels (4). SB - Hagarty (26).
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