Classic duel, Iowa extends win streak to four with pitching gem

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

WESTLAKE — One-run wins have become the norm in District 3-3A as Iowa did it for a third consecutive game on Tuesday, beating host Westlake 1-0.

Thus far, six of 12 District 3-3A games have been decided by one run with district leaders Iowa (3) and St. Louis Catholic (2) accounting for five of them.

“We try to play a tough schedule, and we try to play a certain brand of baseball,” Iowa head coach Daniel Hennigan said. “It is not always flashy, but it is for one-run games.

“When we start in January, everything we do is based on a one-run game. For us to win a state championship or for us to upset somebody in the quarterfinals, we are going to have to do it with a one-run game, so that is what we try to do.”

Iowa (10-8, 4-0) clinched the win with a steady performance on the mound by Tyler Dartez and big defensive plays.

Dartez, a sophomore, went the distance, limiting the Rams to five hits with five strikeouts and three walks. His biggest punchout was the final out of the game with the tying run on base.

“(I liked) that he sealed the deal and made it happen towards the end,” Hennigan said. “He is a great pitcher, has really good stuff and is a super high-character kid.

“He is young and sometimes it is hard to seal the deal, but he finished it with a big strikeout. He got better as he went, and he made it happen.”

Iowa made two key defensive plays in the fourth inning. The first was when Westlake’s Ethan Koonce was thrown out at third base, trying to extend a hit into a triple. Then right fielder Rusty Lowery made a diving catch with a runner on third and two outs.

Westlake came close to tying the score in the bottom of the seventh inning on Hadley Hardesty’s single to left field, but outfielder Cole Corbello thrww out A.J. Lee at the plate.

“The outfield play was huge,” Hennigan said. “The right fielder, Lowery, makes a diving catch on Lee’s ball which would have scored a run, so huge play by him.

“Early on in the fourth, Koonce hits one to right-center, blisters it. (Landon) Langley had a great angle, gets it into the cut spot and we throw him out at third, huge play.

“In the last inning, Cole Corbello makes a play. He doesn’t overthrow the play. That is something we have challenged our whole team with. Don’t overplay, just do what is right. He is able to throw, and it is a good two-hand tag and there is a no-doubt play.”

The loss ended a four-game win streak for the Rams (12-10, 1-1).

Koonce pitched 62/3 innings for the Rams and allowed one unearned run on a double by Lucas Alexander in the first inning. Koonce had seven strikeouts and four walks.