The Dallas Center-Grimes baseball team entered the state baseball tournament last week as the No. 6 seed in Class 3A after a 22-14 record through the regular season, district tournament and substate final game. The Mustangs made a run all the way to the Class 3A state championship game on Aug. 2 at Principal Park in Des Moines, but were taken down by No. 5 Davenport Assumption, who won the game on a walkoff RBI in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Mustangs finished as the 2014 runners up.
The Mustangs have played many close game this year, including all three games at the state tournament. They defeated Fairfield 3-0 in the first round in nine innings, they took down No. 2 Sergeant Bluff-Luton by a score of 2-1 with the last out of the game stranding a runner on third base, and they lost in the championship by a score of 1-0.
DC-G pitcher Cole Baker, who pitched complete games in the first round and in the championship said he didn’t expect anything different than a close game in the Class 3A finals.
“We just wanted a different outcome out of it,” Baker said after the championship game. “We just didn’t get the runs that we needed. We’ve been living on the edge too close this year, it finally got us. We thought we knew how to win the close games and it just got us.”
This year, including at the state tournament, the Mustangs have won games by two or fewer runs 12 times while losing games in the same fashion eight times.
“I would much rather have scored five runs in the first inning,” DC-G coach Byron Peyton said. “If we would’ve, it would’ve been fun tonight, because a lot of times that can relax you even more.”
Peyton said he thought that both teams handled the pressure of the close game well.
Baker gave up just one earned run in 15.1 innings pitched in the tournament, including a nine-inning, 10-strikeout, shutout performance in the first round. Multiple times, Baker found himself with runners in scoring position and found a way out of the inning without giving up a run, but Davenport Assumption found a way to end that streak for Baker to win the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Peyton elected to intentionally walk Michael Alvarado, the No. 2 batter in the lineup who was 1-for-2 in the game at that point, and have Baker face the No. 3 batter Zach Adrian, who was 0-for-2 at that point. Adrian put a single into left field that allowed Sam Bennett to score from second base to win the game.
After all the clutch moments throughout the season and at the tournament, Baker said he was both surprised and not surprised to see the championship game end the way it did.
Baker finished this season, his senior season, with a 9-5 pitching record with a 0.68 earned run average and 106 strikeouts. Hitters only batted .123 against him this year. On the offensive side of the field, Baker led the team in RBIs with 22 and home runs with three.