SOLON, Iowa — One of the best seasons in Maquoketa Valley baseball program history came just one win shy of the state tournament.
Lisbon overcame a shaky defensive start and scored in every inning it batted en route to a 9-2 victory over the Wildcats in the Iowa Class 1A Substate 3 championship game Tuesday afternoon. Lisbon (25-13) advanced to next week’s eight-team state tournament in Carroll and will be appearing in the big dance for the eighth time in program history.
Maquoketa Valley bowed out at 22-8 and just missed its first-ever trip to state three days after upsetting No. 2-ranked North Linn. The Wildcats won 16 of their previous 18 games prior to Tuesday.
First-year coach Mike Cook credited Maquoketa Valley seniors Tony Offerman, Parker Sternhagen and Tim Harmon for creating a winning culture after a 1-11 season a year ago.
“They gave every piece of their mind, soul and body to this season and deserve 100% of the credit,” Cook said. “We have 10 eighth and ninth graders, and those guys pulled the young guys to a substate final that might have overwhelmed us a little bit.
“But, if somebody would have said on Day 1 that we’d be in a substate final a year after going 1-11, you would have thought they were nuts.”
The Lions committed four errors in the first three innings, but pitcher Hunter Clark didn’t flinch. He struck out seven and allowed only two hits, both to Treyton Cook, in six innings of work.
Maquoketa Valley scratched out an unearned run in the top of the first after Sternhagen drew a one-out walk. Offerman’s ground out to second advanced the runner, and the first run scored when Preston Roling reached on an error.
Lisbon manufactured a run of its own in the bottom half. Tyler Scott drew a leadoff walk, advanced on Cohen Kamaus’ comebacker, took third on Landon Stolte’s fly out to right and scored on Luke Czarnecki’s solid two-out single to left.
The Lions took the lead in the second by scoring twice without the benefit of a hit. Tyson Scott led off with a walk and raced to third when Hunter Clark reached on an error. Dillon Brayton drove in the first run with a ground out, and Clark scored on a wild pitch to give Lisbon a 3-1 advantage.
Lisbon added another run in the third, again without a hit. Stolte led off with a walk, advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch and scored on Alex Bock’s sacrifice fly to right.
In the fourth, the Lions scored two more unearned runs to make it 6-1. Kaden Caspers singled, Scott reached on an error, and Stolte ripped a two-run double to straightaway center.
Lisbon scored again in the fifth. Scott and Clark walked, Caspers singled, and Kamaus drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 7-1.
Stolte led off the sixth with a hit batsman and scored on an error, and Czarnecki scored on a wild pitch to wrap up Lisbon’s scoring.
Maquoketa Valley rallied in the seventh and loaded the bases on walks to Michael Schaul and Sternhagen and a Cook single. Harmon drew a bases-loaded walk before reliever Scott ended the game with a strikeout.