Aaron Savary completed the sibling hat trick in impressive fashion Wednesday night.
The lanky junior righthander struck out 13 and allowed just four hits to lead Dubuque Wahlert to a 5-1 victory over Independence in the Iowa Class 3A Substate 3 championship game at Petrakis Park. The youngest of the three Savary boys, he joined Alex and Austin in reaching the state tournament with the Golden Eagles.
“They’ve always talked about how it’s such a great experience, a great atmosphere to play in,” Aaron Savary said after improving to 8-1 and running his season strikeout total to 83 in 59 innings this season. “I know it’s not at Principal Park like in the past, but it’s still going to be an amazing time at state. I can’t wait to experience it for myself.”
No. 5-ranked Wahlert (30-10) advanced to the summer state tournament for the eighth time and the first time since going three straight times from 2015-17. The Eagles, who won their fourth straight, will join seven other schools next week at Duane Banks Field on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.
Independence ended its season at 27-14 and fell short of its third trip to state. The Mustangs had won three straight.
Savary struck out the side in the fifth and seventh innings and finished with just one walk and one hit batsman while lowering his ERA to 1.30. He allowed a hit and a hit batsman on the first two batters of the game before settling in and retiring the next six.
“I just had to get the nerves out after the first inning,” Savary said. “From the second inning on, I was just locked in. It’s a pretty cool feeling to be that locked in in a game as important as this one. You know that, no matter what you throw, you’re going to be able to get guys out.”
Wahlert opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning after Landon Stoll drew a one-out walk and Ben Freed reached on a two-base error. Garrett Kadolph drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to right field, and Derek Tauber followed with a solid single to right-center to make it 2-0.
“They helped us a little, but when it comes to postseason baseball, we don’t really care how we score them as long as they come across the plate,” Wahlert coach Kory Tuescher said. “That first inning was probably the most nervous I’ve seen Aaron all year. We had the big crowd and there were some (scouts) here to see him.
“It helped to get him a couple of runs early so he could relax a little bit. After the first, he was locked in. When he’s throwing like that, we know if we pick up ground balls we’re going to have a pretty good chance to win.”
An inning later, Savary reached on a one-out hit batsman before yielding to courtesy runner Ben Brosius. Jack Walsh then delivered a perfectly executed hit-and-run through the right side, and the speedy Brosius scored all the way from first base.
“Aaron was pitching so well, it was just a matter of getting him a couple of runs, and he’d take care of the rest,” Walsh said. “The second baseman went to cover the bag, they threw me an outside curve ball, and all I had to do was roll it over that way. It felt good to add on that inning.”
Stoll continued the rally with a base hit up the middle, and both runners advanced on a balk. Wahlert’s fourth run scored when Freed reached on an error, and Kadolph pushed a perfect safety squeeze to the right side of the infield to make it 5-0.
“We just work so well as a team unit,” said Kadolph, the No. 7 hitter in the lineup. “Some nights, it’s the top of the lineup that sets the table for the bottom, and some nights it’s the bottom. Look at (No. 9 hitter) Ryan Brosius: the dude’s hitting like .350 and constantly getting on base for the top to drive him in.”
Independence finally got on the scoreboard with two outs in the top of the sixth, after Savary retired 10 straight. Trey Weber walked and Keegan Schmitt singled before Mitch Johnson broke up the shutout with an RBI single through the right side. Savary ended the threat by coaxing Korver Hupke into a groundout to shortstop Carson Cummer.
Savary won his second straight postseason victory. He threw a six-inning perfect game in a 10-0 victory over Vinton-Shellsburg on Friday.
“During the playoffs here, he’s thrown the ball the best he has all season,” said Walsh, the catcher. “That slider was working really, really well tonight.”