FARLEY, Iowa — Tucker Nauman doesn’t worry about momentum going against the Western Dubuque baseball team these days.
The Iowa Class 3A No. 3-ranked Bobcats answered both of Dubuque Hempstead’s big innings with crooked numbers of their own in a 17-7, six-inning win in the first game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader Monday night. That stopped the Mustangs’ 11-game winning streak, but Hempstead rebounded to take the nightcap, 5-3.
“We’re a resilient team,” said Nauman, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and earned the pitching win after allowing seven runs in four innings. “We know our bats can compete with anyone as long as our pitching and defense keeps us in it. And we never get down on ourselves because we know we can hit no matter who throws against us.
“We’re really confident at the plate right now. Hempstead has a really good team with a lot of great players, and they’re hot right now. It feels good to keep the train rolling against a team like that.”
The Bobcats (22-5) pounded out 18 hits and all nine spots in the lineup had at least one hit and one run scored. Hempstead (16-7) had 10 hits of its own in the opener.
“We’ve been hot up and down the order all season long,” centerfielder Caleb Klein said. “A win like this to stop a really hot team just gives us that much more confidence for the rest of the season. I really think this team can make a deep run in the tournament.”
After Nauman wiggled his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning, he helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single in the bottom half. Jake Goodman led off with a single up the middle, took second on a wild pitch and advanced on a Brett Harris ground out.
The Mustangs immediately responded in the second. Justin Potts and Lane Wels led off with solid singles, and Jonny Muehring deposited the first pitch he saw over the wall in left-centerfield for his fifth home run of the season and a 3-1 lead.
Western Dubuque batted around and scored six times to regain the lead in the third. Jack Clemens, Colton McIlrath, Goodman and Klein delivered consecutive singles to open the frame before Harris and Nauman connected for doubles. The first run scored on an error, Klein drove in a run, and Nauman plated a pair.
Later in the frame, Bryn Vantiger and Clemens connected for two-out RBI singles to make it 7-3. The Bobcats scored the six runs on eight hits and a walk to Isaac Then.
The Mustangs answered by batting around in the fourth and tied the game with four runs on five singles — by Wels, Brock Booth, Kellen Strohmeyer, Solen Munson and Cole Swartz. Strohmeyer plated the first run, Munson drove in a pair with an opposite-field cue shot through the left side, and Swartz tied it with a bad-hop single.
Western Dubuque got those four runs right back. Klein tripled to the right-centerfield gap, Nauman punched an RBI single up the middle, and Garrett Kadolph connected for a two-run double to right-center to make it 11-7.
“That’s the team we are,” Kadolph said. “Hempstead has really good pitching, but we have a good-hitting team and we’re confident in every single guy in the lineup. The fact that we could bounce right back and score after they scored shows the kind of character we have.”
The Bobcats added two more in the fifth with a two-out rally. Harris drove in a run with a single up the middle and another run scored when Nauman reached on an error.
Western Dubuque ended the game via the mercy rule with four runs in the sixth. McIlrath drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Klein ended it with a two-run single that included a throwing error for the final run.
In the nightcap, Hempstead took a quick lead when Muehring doubled to left and the run scored when Swartz reached on an error.
The Bobcats responded with a three-run third. Harris tied the game with a bad-hop RBI single, Nauman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Kadolph delivered a two-out RBI single to left.
Hempstead got one of those runs back in the fourth after Potts drew a one-out walk. Booth followed with an infield single, and Strohmeyer stroked an RBI double to left to make it 3-2.
The Mustangs surged ahead with a three-run sixth, thanks to a pair of Western Dubuque errors. Wells laced a two-run single up the middle, and Strohmeyer ripped an RBI double to left-center to put Hempstead ahead, 5-3.
“The key was not getting down after that first game,” Wels said. “We came into tonight with a lot of confidence, but they just did a better job of hitting gaps than we did in the first game. We got a few more timely hits and made the plays on defense.”
Muehring went the distance and scattered nine hits for the win. He struck out five, all in the first two innings.
“Obviously, we got destroyed in that first game, so I knew they were a very good hitting team,” Muehring said. “I wanted to limit the fastballs and pitch backwards with a lot more off speed stuff. Fortunately, they didn’t get the timely hits, and that limited the damage for me.”