Jared Walter got himself into a few sticky situations Monday night, and he got himself out of them just as quickly.
The senior right-hander struck out 11 and scattered four hits in 6 2/3 innings in leading Dubuque Wahlert to a 6-1 victory over Maquoketa in an Iowa Class 3A Substate 3 semifinal at Petrakis Park. The Golden Eagles (29-10) will face Independence (27-13) at approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday at Petrakis for a berth in next week’s eight-team state tournament in Iowa City.
Wednesday’s action begins at 5 p.m. with Dubuque Hempstead hosting North Scott in a Class 4A substate final. North Scott beat Davenport West, 2-1 in eight innings, to advance to the final.
“The first couple of innings were a little shaky, but I was feeling pretty good tonight,” Walter said after improving to 4-3 and lowering the 2.61 ERA he brought into the game. “I’ve had a few rough starts lately, so this was key for my confidence.
“Maquoketa’s a good team. I knew I had to locate my pitches and have my curveball working. Fortunately, I did pretty well in both of those areas tonight.”
Maquoketa threatened in the top of the first with a two-out rally. Kannon Coakley one-hopped his state-leading 21st double off the left-field fence, Payton Mangler walked and Kaleb Whaley reached on an error to load the bases, but Walter struck out Daniel Coyle looking to end the inning.
“We get the first two outs, Coakley hits that one half a mile and we end up loading the bases … to get out of that was probably the difference in the game,” Wahlert coach Kory Tuescher said. “We know how good of a team Maquoketa is and we didn’t play all that well in the first round Friday night, so we couldn’t afford to fall behind right away. To come right back and hang a four-spot on them was huge.”
The Eagles turned that defensive momentum into runs in the bottom half.
Jake Brosius led off with a towering triple inside the right-field line and scored on Walter’s ground out to third, and Aaron Savary doubled to left and Jack Walsh singled to re-start the inning. Savary scored on Landon Stoll’s safety squeeze that went for a base hit, Ben Freed laced an RBI single to right, and a fourth run came across when Garrett Kadolph reached on a two-out error.
“It felt pretty good to do my part,” Freed said. “It was a big situation and we wanted to put up as many runs as we could to get the momentum going. That inning got the bench into it, and Jared did a great job of shutting them down.”
The Cardinals (20-16) stranded runners in scoring position in the second and third, as Walter ended both frames with strikeouts. Kannon Coakley laced his second double to left in the third.
“I don’t know if we put too much pressure on ourselves coming into tonight or if I didn’t do a good enough job with my pep talk before the game,” Cardinals coach Ray Cavanagh said. “We were on borrowed time. We weren’t supposed to beat Decorah (10-3 in the first round) the other night, and we came in a little tighter than we normally are.
“We still had runners in scoring position the first three innings. We just couldn’t come through with the big hit.”
A lot of that was Walter. He had inning-ending strikeouts in the first four innings to get out of jams, then ended the fifth by fielding a comebacker.
“It feels pretty good to get out of those situations yourself,” Walter said. “Definitely a confidence booster for when you go back out there.”
Wahlert tacked on another run in the bottom of the third to make it 5-0. Freed delivered a two-out double to the right-centerfield gap and later scored when Kadolph reached on a dropped-third strike.
Three innings later, the Eagles added another run. Ryan Brosius used his speed to bunt for a base hit, then hustled all the way to third on an errant pickoff attempt. He scored when his older brother, Jake, hit a towering sacrifice fly to the wall in right.
The Cardinals spoiled Walter’s shutout bid in the top of the seventh after Kasey Coakley reached on an error and Kannon Coakley drew a walk to chase Walter in favor of Stoll. Payton Mangler doubled inside the right-field line to drive in a run before Stoll ended the game on a strikeout.