The bottom of the lineup got the job done.
Dubuque Wahlert’s Nos. 6-9 hitters went a combined 8-for-10 and drove in eight runs, and the Golden Eagles routed Vinton-Shellsburg, 11-1, in five innings in Friday’s Iowa Class 3A District 8 semifinal in Maquoketa, Iowa.
“Our pitching has been good all season, so that’s not a surprise. But our bats can be off and on, so it’s good to see everyone staying hot heading into the postseason,” said Jared Weber, Wahlert’s No. 6 hitter who went 3-for-3 with a double.
Weber scored three runs and drove in another as Wahlert (17-21) advanced to Monday’s district final back in Maquoketa against Benton Community — which beat Maquoketa, 3-2, in eight innings in the other District 8 semifinal.
The Eagles won for just the fourth time in their last 14 games.
“This just builds confidence. We haven’t been playing real well the last couple of weeks,” Eagles coach Kory Tuescher said. “We pitched well today, played good defense and swung it well, so it’s really encouraging for us. But we know we’re going to play a more talented team on Monday night. So we need to be good in all three phases again.”
No. 8 hitter Aaron Savary started the Eagles with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the second inning, but Vinton-Shellsburg cut the lead in half in the top of the third with a two-out triple and an infield single.
The game changed completely in the third as Wahlert plated seven runs, including four straight singles from Weber, No. 7 hitter Bennett Cutsforth, Savary and No. 9 hitter Will Hoffmann.
“We responded in the third,” Tuescher said. “When they cut the lead, to respond back to that in the third inning was huge for us.”
Savary and Hoffman both went 2-for-2 with three RBIs apiece; Cutsforth finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and also reached on an error.
“We really were just focusing on keeping the ball down,” Weber said. “The wind was blowing in, we didn’t want to elevate the ball and try to hit it out, but we just focused on hitting it to the right side and keeping it more on a line and not allowing the wind to play a factor.”
Jared Walter earned the win for Wahlert, allowing just two hits in four innings. He struck out three. Savary pitched the fifth.
The winner of Monday’s game advances to Wednesday’s Substate 4 final. The Eagles are trying to reach the state tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
“We just need to focus on doing the little things, pay attention to signs and make contact with the ball,” Weber said. “Put it in play and see what happens.”