FARLEY, Iowa — Sam Goodman fired his glove high in the air and unleashed a primal scream.
The senior right-hander had just punctuated his fourth career no-hitter with his fifth strikeout of the game to lead No. 5-ranked Western Dubuque to an 8-0 victory over Davenport Central in the Iowa Class 4A Substate 4 championship game Wednesday night at Farley Park.
The Bobcats (32-9) advanced to the summer state tournament for the second straight season and the fifth time in school history. The Class 4A quarterfinals take place next Wednesday at Principal Park in Des Moines.
“We walked out and saw the crowd and we knew this was going to be a big game,” said Goodman, who threw one no-hitter as a sophomore and two last season. “We watched Central play (Monday night), so we know how they compete. They battle all seven innings, so I just wanted to go out and compete, too.
“I didn’t care how many runs I gave up or how many hits I gave up. I just wanted to get the win. I came out and tried to pitch as well as I could, and things worked out well for me.”
Goodman survived a close call in the top of the sixth, when leadoff man Josh Hann lofted a ball toward the left-field line. But hard-charging left-fielder Payton Quagliano made a diving catch to end the inning.
“Worst-case scenario, it was going to be a bloop single and not extra bases,” Quagliano said. “I figured I could give it a chance and dive for it, and I ended up making the play. It’s a great feeling to make that catch, because it got everyone fired up and it allowed Goody to close the game with a little more confidence.”
Goodman allowed only one baserunner. He hit pitcher Mason Geresdorf with two outs in the fourth.
“I knew the no-hitter was happening, I just tried not to think about it,” said Goodman, who improved to 6-3 and lowered his ERA to 0.47. “You think about what’s important — getting the win and going on to state. It’s a great feeling to get back to state, but we don’t want to be done here. We want to go a little further than last year.”
The Bobcats lost to eventual champion Urbandale in the state semifinals last season.
Goodman’s outing prompted a change in plans from coach Casey Bryant. He planned to have all-stater Calvin Harris pitch the final three innings.
“We had two aces available, and they’re both dominant pitchers,” Bryant said. “That way we wouldn’t give (Central) a third time through the order. But, when a guy’s that dominant, you just can’t take him out.
“His velocity was down a little earlier in the season, so we rested him. But his last outing he was back up around 87-88 (mph), so we knew he had this in him.”
Western Dubuque wasted no time in taking the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff man Harris drew a four-pitch walk, stole second and took third on Goodman’s fly out to centerfield. After Damon Jaeger walked, courtesy runner Collin Hogan scored the first run on Kyle Lehmann’s base hit up the middle.
Zach Bierman followed with a tailing triple the opposite way, just inside the right-field line, to drive in two more and give the Bobcats a 3-0 cushion.
“We wanted to put some runs up early, rely on our defense and gradually build onto the lead,” Bierman said. “It made a statement to put up runs right away. It takes a lot of energy out of their dugout when you score three right away, and it puts a little extra energy in your dugout.
“As soon as I hit that, I just yelled at everyone to start running, because they weren’t catching it. I’m just glad it stayed inside the foul line.”
The Bobcats threatened again in the fourth but couldn’t add on. Quagliano singled over the bag at third, took second on Matt Maiers’ bunt and went to third on Ben Bryant’s single to left. But Geresdorf fanned Harris, and Goodman hit a gapper that centerfielder Hann tracked down for the third out.
An inning later, Lehmann greeted Central reliever Will Kranz with a towering home run to the power alley in right-centerfield. It was the senior right fielder’s third homer of the season and stretched the lead to 4-0.
“It always feels good to get some runs for the team when Sam’s pitching like he always does,” said Lehmann, who finished with a team-high three RBIs. “I was down 0-2 on my first at-bat, so it felt good to come through there. And the homer felt pretty good off the bat.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be going back to state. It’s an obstacle to get there, but to do it two years in a row feels great. Hopefully, we can finish what we didn’t do last year. I like our odds.”
Bierman followed with a walk, moved up on a Sawyer Nauman walk and scored after a pair of wild pitches.
In the sixth, Bryant singled and Harris drew an intentional walk. Goodman put down a bunt, but a throwing error allowed both runners to score and Goodman to race to third. Lehmann’s sacrifice fly made it 8-0.
Western Dubuque has reached the summer state tournament on four other occasions — 2005, 2006, 2012 and last summer. The Bobcats finished second in Class 3A in 2006 and advanced to the Class 4A semifinals a year ago.
Central (15-17) fell one victory short of a 13th state tournament berth. The Blue Devils won the 1979 state championship but haven’t advanced to the big show since 2011.