The Bettendorf baseball team has lived on the edge, at times, this season.
It has worked out the majority of the time as the Bulldogs compiled a 9-3 record this season in one and two-run games. Unfortunately for the Dogs, Friday night against Cedar Rapids Jefferson in a Class 4A substate game was not one of those times.
Bettendorf rallied in the seventh inning to tie the game at 2-2 against the J-Hawks but three unearned runs in the 10th inning were too much to overcome as Bettendorf fell 5-2 to Jefferson on Bettendorf’s home field. The Bulldogs finish the season with an overall record of 20-16.
“We have five or six walk-offs this year and we would tie games up late and we were never out of it, if it was a close game,” Bulldogs coach Jay Fitzgerald said. “But things start to even themselves out and come back around. This was one of those games.”
Fitzgerald added some little things the Bulldogs didn’t do throughout the course of the game also did not help. Bettendorf missed twice on sacrifice bunts that would have put runners in scoring position during the contest and also missed cutoff men that allowed J-Hawks’ runners to get in scoring position in the pivotal 10th inning the led to the three unearned runs.
“It’s a game of inches and little things and it was something we talked about all week in practice,” Fitzgerald said. “You have to do the little things.”
Sophomore Carter Bell was clutch for the Bulldogs as he pitched 7 1/3 innings and was also responsible for the game-tying hit in the seventh when his single up the middle chased home Kyle Husemann and sent the home fans into a frenzy.
Bell had a rocky start on the mound, giving up RBI singles to Jefferson’s Brayden Frazier and Zachary Grant to fall behind 2-0. But he settled down from there, allowing just one more hit during his time and fanning seven hitters.
“You have to tip your cap to that Bell kid, he pitched great and he had ice in his veins with that hit,” Jefferson coach Kyle Rodenkirk said.
Kam Arons was also solid for the Dogs in his final home game. The senior blasted two doubles into right center field and also scored the first run for Bettendorf in the fourth inning when he came home on a sacrifice fly from Sam Frantz to cut the lead to 2-1.
Jefferson pitcher Connor VanScoyoc was equal to the task. Before the seventh-inning rally, Bettendorf had just three hits, two of which were doubles from Arons. VanScoyoc fanned five and did not walk a batter although he did hit two batters.
The Bulldogs got the rally going in the seventh with one out when Husemann walked then went to second on an infield hit by Stephen Ciha. After a strikeout, Bell came to the plate and sent a 2-2 pitch back up the middle to tie the score. But Bettendorf missed chances with runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth inning.
Things started to unravel when a fielding error in the 10th helped Jefferson to send eight men to the plate. Grant had an RBI single for the visitors with two outs and Kane Kramer had the big blow with a two-run single that made it 5-2.
Fitzgerald said the future is bright but added senior starters Arons, Andy Whiteman, Frantz, Ricky Proehl and Justin Hutter will be tough to replace.
“It was a good year and could have very easily gone the other way but it was a fun year,” he said.