Like the majority of his new teammates, Jake Brosius has only been a part of the Dubuque County American Legion baseball team since the beginning of this spring.
But they all certainly understand the tradition of success established by the six county high school programs who come together to represent the Legion posts of Cascade, Dyersville, Dubuque, Epworth and Farley.
The Minutemen throttled Carroll, 15-0 in five innings this afternoon in Ames to win their third consecutive Iowa state championship. Dubuque County will represent Iowa at the Central Plains Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D., in early August for the right to play in the World Series.
“We talk about the tradition quite a bit,” said Brosius, a Dubuque Wahlert standout who went 2-for-3 with a solo home run today to cap a 7-for-11 weekend. “It’s definitely something to look up to, knowing what the program has accomplished. They’ve been so good for a long time, and it gives us something to strive for. You want to be as good as those guys.
“It means a lot to have the opportunity to play in the regional. Hopefully, we can represent the American Legion and perform like we did this weekend.”
Dubuque County won all three games this weekend by the mercy rule. The Minutemen pounded Moville, 12-2, and host Ames, 16-5. Including last weekend’s area tournament in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque County outscored its opponents, 70-12, in five games and won four of them by the mercy rule.
“That just goes to show what kind of a team we have,” said Dubuque Senior’s Ben Hefel, who drove in a pair of runs Sunday. “We have great hitters up and down the lineup, and we’re just a solid all-around team. I doubt if there are many other teams in the state that could run-rule three teams in a row in this tournament.”
Hefel will become a spectator at the regional tournament.
The Winona State University recruit tore his UCL while throwing a bullpen two months ago and will undergo Tommy John surgery immediately after the high school season. He hopes to serve as a designated hitter and play first base for the Rams this summer.
“It still means a lot to me to be a part of the Legion team,” Hefel said. “I won’t be able to play in Sioux Falls, but I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win out there.”
The Minutemen took command today with a six-run second inning and added three more in the third and six in the fourth. They scored at least one run in 11 of the 13 innings they batted this weekend.
Western Dubuque’s Sawyer Nauman, Senior’s Ray Schlosser and Wahlert’s Garrett Kadolph all doubled during Dubuque County’s nine-hit attack today. Kadolph drove in a pair with his bases-loaded double in the second, while Wahlert’s Landon Stoll also collected a pair of RBIs.
That provided plenty of cushion for Cascade ace Eli Green, who struck out seven, walked three, hit one batter and allowed only one base hit in four innings of work. Western Dubuque’s Tucker Nauman pitched a 1-2-3 fifth to close out the game.
“It takes so much pressure off a pitcher when you have a lineup like ours that’s so stacked,” Green said. “What’s really nice is they score in bunches right away. That makes things so much easier, and you feel a lot more comfortable on the mound when you have a big lead.
“I pretty much stuck with the fastball the first time through, because it didn’t feel like they were catching up to it. The second time through, I mixed in a few offspeed pitches just to keep them off balance.”
Dubuque County’s 18-man roster includes only one holdover – Dyersville Beckman’s Nick Offerman -- from the 2019 team. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season across the country.
The Legion roster also includes: Wahlert’s Aaron Savary; Cascade’s Ted Weber and Kaleb Topping; Senior’s Cole Smith and Gavin Guns; Hempstead’s Michael Garrett and Trey Schaber; and Beckman’s Logan Burchard and Owen Huehnergarth.
“The really cool thing about this weekend is everyone contributed,” said first-year head coach Ronnie Kramer, a long-time assistant to Rob Hoerner with the Legion team. “We only had the nine hits today, which is a little low for us the way we’ve been swinging it, but they were all really timely hits. They walked a few and had four errors, and we took advantage of it.
“It’s kind of a relief to win this. If we lose, the season’s over and there’s nothing until next spring. But the coaches are all happy to be going back to regionals.”