ANKENY — There’s a reason teams play the game — anything can happen, anybody can win.
Newton High’s Cardinals had one of the worst regular-season records in Iowa Class 4A. Ankeny Centennial finished ranked No. 8 in 4A and won the CIML Central title.
For five full innings Friday in the 4A Substate 2 opener, the Cardinals and Jaguars were all even and scoreless. The Jaguars had one hit — a single by senior Alex Koprivad in the fourth — and the Cardinals did not have a hit as senior Trey Vanderlaan for Newton and senior Cameron Cowan for Centennial staged a pitching dual.
“These are the games you dream of playing. Our kids didn’t back down from the challenge. Centennial had a couple of big hits late and we couldn’t get that hit, which was the story of our season,” Newton head coach Dustin Brisel said after a 3-0 loss.
With one gone in the bottom of the sixth, Koprivad doubled down the right field line then senior Dawson DeAngelo ripped a double to the left field fence to drive in the first run of the game. Cowan powered a Vanderlaan pitch over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
Newton was retired in order in the top of the seventh to end its 2017 baseball season. Cowan, whose home run was his first of the season, also recorded his first no-hitter of the season to go 6-0 on the mound.
“I told our guys this is one they’ll remember no matter if they are seniors, juniors, sophomores or freshmen. Yes, it stinks we were on the short end of the stick, but I’m so proud of the way we played and competed. Our pitching was great and our defense was great. We just didn’t get hits,” Brisel said.
Vanderlaan, who was 1-7 on the hill this season, threw a five-hitter. He gave up one walk and struck out four. The Jaguars had a walk and a single in the fourth, but Vanderlaan and the Cardinals retired the next three batters.
In the fifth, senior Reed Pegram doubled for Centennial. Again, the Cardinals made the plays to get out of the inning.
“Trey was lights out tonight. He threw one of the best games we as coaches have seen in awhile. This was against the No. 8 team in 4A and one of the better hitting teams in the state,” Brisel said. “Our guys played tremendous defense behind him. We had running catches in the outfield and made the routine plays throughout the game.”
The Cardinals did have several base runners. In the second inning, with two gone, junior Trevor Ergenbright was hit by a pitch and in the fifth, sophomore Ty Arguello drew a two-out walk.
Newton appeared to have something going int eh top of the sixth when junior Jaron Roush walked with one gone and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Tyler Stanton. Senior Brennen Dodd worked a walk, but the Cowan coaxed a ground-out from Vanderlaan.
“We take pride in our defense. They had that one hitting burst in the sixth to get over the hump. They found a couple of gaps,” Brisel said. Newton had one error, which came in the second inning, but worked around it.
Newton finished 8-29. The Cardinals had six seniors on the roster — Vanderlaan, Dodd, Stanton, Reagan Maple, Josh Gulling and Keith Steinbach.
“This was a great group of seniors. This is the toughest part of my job each year to say thank you and good-bye to the seniors. These six are special and we’ll miss their leadership and contributions,” Brisel said.
Brisel said Friday’s game was an important starting point for the Cardinal baseball program. He said from where the team started this year — losing its first 12 games — to where it ended was a huge leap forward for the program.
“We were a young team this year and a lot of young players saw varsity action. We’ll have those players coming back next year with varsity experience. They know what it takes now, and we’ll be ready to work in January,” Brisel said. “I’m confident in them and know we’ll be competing for a conference championship next year.”
Newton went 4-16 in Little Hawkeye Conference play, finishing eighth.
In the other two 4A Substate 2 openers Friday, Mason City beat Marshalltown 7-0 and Indianola got past Fort Dodge, 2-1 in eight innings. In the Substate 2 semifinal at 7 p.m. Monday, Mason City plays at Indianola
The winner of Monday’s semifinal plays Ankeny Centennial at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the substate championship game at Northview Middle School in Ankeny.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or email@example.com