BELLEVUE, Iowa — The beat goes on for the Cascade High School baseball team.
Despite graduating seven seniors from a team that spent most of last summer ranked No. 1 in Iowa Class 2A, the Cougars have maintained their high standard of success in the River Valley Conference.
On Monday night, Cascade stretched its winning streak to eight games with a 15-0, 19-5 sweep at Bellevue. The Cougars improved to 13-2 just hours after being listed at No. 7 in the most recent coaches poll.
“For as long as I can remember, Cascade has always been good,” senior Haris Hoffman said. “They’ve never really had a down year. It’s always been a winning program. So it’s kind of expected of us, and we’re just trying to live up to those expectations. As seniors, it’s our responsibility to bring along the underclassmen so they can help us maintain the tradition.
“We struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year, but since we’ve been out of school, we’ve been able to go to Legion (Field) before games and work on our game and that’s transferred over to the games themselves.”
Cascade batted around three times in each game while ending both via the mercy rule. They finished with 27 hits, including 20 in the nightcap.
“It really helped to get out of school, because the guys could spend a little more time working on their hitting,” Cascade coach Roamn Hummel said. “And offensively, we’ve been a lot more consistent since then.”
The Cougars will soon have to replace a potent bat in the lineup, as Logan Otting will join the Iowa State University football team and begin summer school classes.
“It was such a difficult decision, but if I didn’t go down and get a jump start on things, I’d be quite a bit behind in building relationships at Iowa State,” said Otting, an all-state baseball player last summer. “It’s tough to leave all my friends behind and miss part of my senior season.
“But I know they’re still going to be really good. The second half is always when Cascade baseball shows what it can do. Things are headed in the right direction and this team has the right attitude to win.”
The Cougars batted around in each of the first three innings to take a commanding 11-0 lead in the opener. The first eight batters of the game reached safely in building a 5-0 lead. Hoffman doubled, Reid Rausch singled, Otting doubled, Riley Reed reached on an error, Ted Weber doubled, Eli Green reached on catcher’s interference, Kaleb Topping singled and Tanner Simon walked before Bellevue recorded an out.
Cascade added three runs in the second on six walks and three more in the third on two hits and four walks.
All nine spots in the order scored at least once. Otting led the way offensively by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored. The Cougars collected just seven hits in the opener. Hoffman scattered four hits and struck out seven in the five-inning complete game win.
In the nightcap, the Cougars’ offense got rolling in the top of the second, when the first eight batters reached safely en route to a 10-run outburst. Cascade sent 15 batters to the plate and collected 11 hits in the frame.
Tanner Simon drove in three runs with two hits, Topping doubled and singled in runs, and Justin Roling, Hoffman, Rausch and Green all added RBI hits. All nine spots in the lineup had hits by the second inning.
Bellevue scored its first runs of the night in the bottom half of the inning. The first run came across when Riley Konrardy singled, and Brandon Kafer hustled home on an error. Max Jackson followed with an RBI double, Cole Heim plated a run with a ground out and Trey Daugherty added an RBI double to make it 10-4.
But Cascade got those runs right back in the third. Weber singled in a pair of runs, and two more crossed when Green reached on an error. Simon added to his night with another RBI single to make it 15-4.
Cascade added on in the fifth on yet another Simon RBI single, a two-run double by Tom Knepper and a Reed RBI single to make it 19-4.
“It feels great to help the team,” said Simon, who finished 4-for-4 with five RBIs out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup. “I’ve been working on seeing the ball and putting it in play.
“It helps to have a lineup like ours. We’re pretty solid from 1 to 9, so we can put up runs like this.”
Bellevue added a run on a Cole Heim bases loaded walk in the bottom half to account for the final margin.
“Credit Cascade, because they did a really nice job of putting the ball in play,” Bellevue coach Pete Bonifas said after his team fell to 5-7. “They put up some runs and made us play from behind all night.”