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DES MOINES — About three weeks ago, Davenport Assumption’s baseball team was in an offensive rut.

The Knights were not finding gaps or executing very well with runners on base. It resulted in limited run production and losses to Wilton, Muscatine and Burlington.

But since the postseason commenced, the Class 3A second-ranked Knights have regained their swagger at the plate.

Assumption smacked 11 hits, five for extra bases, in the first three innings of Tuesday’s 12-2 state quarterfinal rout over Bondurant-Farrar at Principal Park.

“We hit a lull a few weeks ago and this group of players almost needed it,” senior Trenton Wallace said. “We had been on such a high before that happened and you want to keep rolling, but this team needed a couple losses in our face.

“It proves anything is possible in baseball and you just can’t go out and win because you think you’re the better team.”

The sense of urgency and focus has returned in the playoffs. And so too have the bats.

Assumption (39-5) tallied 34 runs and 23 hits in run-rule wins over West Liberty, Washington and Fairfield.

The hit parade continued in the spacious I-Cubs' ballpark.

Coach Billy Argo's team scored twice in the opening frame and erupted for five runs in the second to reach Friday’s 1:30 p.m. semifinal against Dubuque Wahlert (27-15), a 5-4 winner over Marion. 

“They swung it as well as anybody we’ve seen,” Bondurant-Farrar coach Brad Hamilton said. “By far.”

Up and down the lineup, Assumption was dialed in at the plate against Bondurant-Farrar ace Tanner Bedier and reliever Brody Sandin.

No. 8 hitter Justus Burke was 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Ryan Wohlers, who bats ninth in the order, had a two-run single and knocked in three runs.

Luke Fennelly, Wallace and Nolan Melchert, the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters, combined for six hits (two home runs, two doubles) and nine RBIs.

“We’re hitting the ball the best we have all season,” Melchert said. “It is great to know we’ve got nine guys in our lineup that can do their job.”

That wasn’t happening around the Fourth of July.

The Knights took a couple days off to get their mind off baseball.

“It was the wear and tear of the season, a long season,” Melchert said. “We got our mojo back and we jumped right back into it.”

Wallace became just the third player since the tournament moved to Principal Park in 2005 to hit an inside-the-park home run. All three have been Knights, joining Willie Argo (2007) and Jared McIntosh (2008).  

With the Bluejays’ defense shifted toward left-center, Wallace launched a ball to left field. A triple was a sure thing, but the initial throw in was off the mark and Wallace kept running.

“As I was coming around third, coach Argo was kind of iffy and I figured I’d be pulling up,” Wallace said. “I didn't slow down all the way and he said to keep going. I put it in an extra gear.”

It was Wallace’s first home run of the season. His last inside-the-park homer?

“Never in high school,” he said. “I’m not that fast.”

Melchert capped a four-run third that led to the game ending after 4 1/2 innings because of the run rule. The senior pounded a ball over the 335-pound fence in left field for his second homer of the season.

“I’ve never a hit one like that before,” Melchert said. “The ball felt great off the bat.”

The ball was still rising as it cleared the fence near a satellite dish located on the roof above a restaurant in left field.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a ball hit like that,” Wallace said.

Assumption has 22 extra-base hits in four postseason games, including six home runs.

“I like the way we’re doing things,” Argo said. “The guys are taking good at-bats and we have a much better focus.”

The top-seeded Knights haven’t lost to a 3A school all season. They beat Wahlert 12-2 on June 10. 

“All the pressure is on us because we're the number one seed and so much is expected of us,” Burke said. “We knew coming in here the target was going to be on our back.

“We definitely look very solid right now and will be tough to beat.”

Wallace (10-0) struck out seven and yielded one hit in three innings (53 pitches) of work. He has 99 strikeouts in 65 innings for the season.

“I had a good run on the fastball, not much on the offspeed today,” he said. “Tavien (Gillette) did a great job of setting up batters inside and outside with the fastball.”

Daniel Powers pitched the final two innings. It allows Assumption to use any of its three Division I arms -- Ben Beutel, Wallace or Powers for the semifinal game.

“It was an ideal situation for us if we can build a lead and limit Trenton’s pitches,” Argo said. “Up and down the order, we swung the bats really well today.”

Assumption 12, Bondurant-Farrar 2 (5 inn.)



Tanner Bedier, Brody Sandin (2), Casey Zarr (3) and Hogan McIntosh. Trenton Wallace, Daniel Powers (4) and Tavien Gillette. WP — Wallace (10-0). LP — Bedier (6-3). Two or more hits — B-F, McIntosh; Assumption, Justus Burke 3, Luke Fennelly, Wallace, Nolan Melchert. 2B — Assumption, Wallace, Melchert, Donaven Juarez. HR — Assumption, Wallace, Melchert. RBI — B-F, Walter Long, McIntosh; Assumption, Wallace 4, Melchert 3, Ryan Wohlers 3, Fennelly 2.

Records: Bondurant-Farrar 21-16; Assumption 39-5


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.