AMES - The Fort Dodge baseball team will try to make the most of their new lease on life here tonight, squaring off with Ames in a Class 4A, Region 1 substate semifinal.
First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
Down to the final three outs of their season last Friday, the Dodgers (23-18 overall) rallied from a 2-0 deficit at Sioux City North to force extra innings and eventually prevail. Now they face a Little Cyclone squad that defeated them in all four regular-season meetings.
''We're excited to still be on the field and playing tournament baseball,'' FDSH head coach Blake Utley said. ''We never lost confidence or panicked last week, even when our chances were fading. It's given our kids an extra boost of excitement, and at the same time, calmed the nerves now that we have one out of the way.
''We know Ames and their field well. They know us. There won't be any secrets (tonight) - it will come down to who executes, takes care of the little things, plays better defense and comes up with the timely hitting.''
The Little Cyclones (23-15) will likely start junior Matt Flummerfelt, who is 6-0 with a sparkling 1.06 earned run average this year. Flummerfelt tossed a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers on June 23.
Fort Dodge will counter on the mound with either senior right-hander Andrew Stover (4-3, 3.14) or sophomore southpaw Kole Kampen (2-3, 1.68).
Ames is paced offensively by a handful of seniors, including Joe Bappe (.500, 4 home runs, 47 RBI, 26 runs), Erik Dempsey (.432, 5, 27, 35), Alex Brammer (.395, 3, 25, 28), and Austin Nowers (.345, 5, 33, 25). The Little Cylcones eliminated Sioux City East last Friday at home, 4-2.
The Dodgers rely on senior JC Hatcher (.407), junior Austin Halligan (.379), senior Cory Alexander (.362), and Stover (.341).
Monday's winner advances to take on No. 6 Dowling (28-10) in West Des Moines this Wednesday for a state tournament berth. The Maroons survived a scare last Friday, ousting Sioux City West, 2-1 in 11 innings.
''We've said all year long that we want to be playing our best in late July,'' Utley said. ''The attitude and work ethic of the kids has been great lately, especially since we turned the page and started to focus on the tournament. We're looking forward to this opportunity.''