Valiant Dodger effort comes up just short at No. 9 Indianola

Indians prevail by 2-1 count in extra innings of 4A substate quarterfinal

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge’s Bryer Nelson, shown here during the regular season, had an RBI single to tie the score in the seventh inning at No. 9 Indianola on Friday in a Class 4A substate quarterfinal game.

INDIANOLA — Fort Dodge’s grind of a baseball season had this year’s Dodgers ready for postseason action, but they came up just short against No. 9 Indianola in a Class 4A substate quarterfinal here Friday night.

The Indians (31-8 overall) got a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth to escape with a 2-1 win, advancing them to a substate semifinal back here Monday against No. 10 Mason City.

Fort Dodge ends its season with a 13-28 mark. It was the eighth one-run loss of the year for head coach Blake Utley’s youthful Dodgers, who were victorious only twice in the same scenario.

Brendan Sher drew a walk with no outs in the eighth against Dodger reliever Tyrnan Lara to force home Colin Fitzgerald, the No. 9 hitter who reached base on an error to start the frame. A single and walk by Dodger starter Drew Callon loaded the bases before Dodger coach Blake Utley turned to Lara.

“Our guys were definitely playing their best baseball at the end of the season,” Utley said. “They were taking more batting practice, taking more ground balls. Our schedule really had us ready for this. It can lead to some adversity during the season, but we were used to pressure situations.

“It really came down to freebies, when you talk about errors, walks, hit batters. We gave away a few too many. Indianola seemed a little looser. I don’t know if it’s because they are older or because they’ve had some success.”

Callon and Indianola ace Ducan Davitt went toe-to-toe over the first seven frames. Callon allowed just two runs on four hits. Davitt allowed only one run on five hits.

“Drew Callon came out and competed,” said Utley. “Those were two really good pitchers out there going head to head.

“We had five hits off Davitt, and three of them were from freshmen.”

Utley turned to Lara once Callon’s tank looked like it was approaching empty in the eighth.

“Tyrnan wanted the ball. I just wish I could have given him some more warmup pitches in the bullpen, but we couldn’t. He’s definitely a guy I want in that situation.”

Fort Dodge, which left six runners on base, finally broke through against Davitt in the top of the seventh, as Bryer Nelson singled to score Lucas Williamson from second base.

No. 9 hitter Bryce Bell singled with two outs after Indianola intentionally walked Shane Halligan, but Nelson was held at third. Davitt then got lead-off hitter Nate Scherff to pop up to end the threat.

“I made that decision (to hold Nelson) when he rounded third,” said Utley. “Then I saw the fielder stumble a little. I still think he makes that throw.”

The Dodgers had other chances against Davitt, who came into the game with a 7-1 record and an impressive 0.40 ERA. Drake Miller doubled in the first, but was left at second. Halligan was stranded at third in the third inning.

Halligan doubled in the fifth with two outs, but he was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. The freshman catcher finished 2-for-3.

Indianola scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning. Brady Held doubled, then went to third on an error on the Dodgers. Sher scored him with a sacrifice fly to center.

Callon had faced the minimum through the first three frames. Ryan Ahrens singled to start the third, but he was erased on a double play started by Callon.

Indianola had a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh, but Callon coaxed a grounder to second base and he covered the bag for the final out, leaving a runner at third.

Fort Dodge says goodbye to four seniors: starter Keaton Jones, as well as Collin Leonard, A.J. Ruge and Shane Greve.

“Losing seniors is tough,” said Utley. “It’s hard not to get emotional when they are done.”

In the other substate games, Ankeny Centennial beat Newton, 3-0, while the Mohawks blanked Marshalltown 7-0.

Indianola 2, Fort Dodge 1 (8 innings)

Fort Dodge 000 000 10 — 1 5 2

Indianola 000 100 01 — 2 4 0

Drew Callon, Tyrnan Lara (8) and Shane Halligan. Duncan Davitt, Brendan Sher (8) and Clayton Reif. 2B–FD: Halligan, Drake Miller; Indianola: Brady Held. S–FD: Nate Scherff; Indianola: Ryan Ahrens. SF–Indianola: Sher. DP–Fort Dodge. LOB–Fort Dodge 6, Indianola 7.