(Above) Andrew Crane waits in the third base line for a change to get to home plate during hte Mason City game. -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy
by Marianne Gasaway
The Clear Lake baseball team broke out of their tournament slump in a big way Friday night. For the first time since 2016, the Lions won a post-season game. They tromped Algona, 18-1, in their Class 3A Sub-State game on the Bulldogs’ home diamond. The last time Clear Lake won a post-season game was the 2016 State Championship.
“We got rid of the five-year monkey,” said a jubilant Coach AJ Feuerbach after the game. “Our seniors have not ever won a tournament game.”
The win set up a Sub-State semi-final against Webster City Monday night, July 19. The Lions (17-14) are the number five seed in the bracket, while the Lynx (25-1) are the top seed. Webster City shutout Eagle Grove, 10-0 in six innings to advance. The winner will meet either the second seed, Waverly-Shell Rock, or third seed Humboldt in the Sub-State final Wednesday, July 21, with a State berth on the line. W-SR (31-7) defeated Hampton-Dumont, 6-0, and Humboldt (23-9) topped Charles City, 13-9, in their Sub-State openers.
CL 18, Algona 1 (4)
The Lions were expecting a battle Friday when they traveled to Algona. Clear Lake defeated the Bulldogs, 5-3, when the teams met in June, but just a week ago Algona downed the Lions, 10-4.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said Coach AJ Feuerbach. “I was not expecting to see that offensive juggernaut. Our bats haven’t been going, but we were aggressive at the plate. We came out and knocked the cover off the baseball. It was great!”
And the Lions wasted no time in running the bases. Clear Lake’s first 12 batter reached base. They sent 14 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored eight runs on nine hits.
The Lions added six more in the third, thanks to a grand slam by Jett Neuberger.
The game ended in the fourth when the Lions brought in four runs. Carson Toebe homered on a line drive to left field that also scored Caden Jones, who had walked. Austin Warnke and Eric Ritter reached base on hits and advanced when the Bulldogs misplayed Andrew Formanek’s ground ball. Sacrifice fly balls by Andrew Crane and Neuberger scored Warnke and Ritter.
As a team, the Lions collected 16 hits in the win. Neuberger would not be denied at the plate when runners were on base. The junior drove in seven runs with a single in the first, grand slam in the third, and a wild pitch in the fourth.
Warnke, Toben, Jones, Ritter and PJ Feuerbach also had multiple hits. Toebe and Warnke had three apiece.
Neuberger also helped the team from the mound. He went four innings, allowing just one hit and one run while striking out nine.
“It was a total team effort and now there’s no pressure,” said Coach Feuerbach. “Let’s just keep at it.”
Cameren Rindone took the loss for Algona. He pitched one-third of an inning and gave up eight runs on eight hits. Aaron Weringa and Kyle Simpson finished out the game. Eight runs on five hits were charged to Weringa. Simpson gave up two runs on no hits.
Algona finished the season with a record of 16-15.
Mason City 15, CL 3
An early lead for Mason City sealed the Lions’ fate in their final regular season game Tuesday, July 13. The Lions struggled to contain the high-powered Mohawk offense, giving up 15 runs on 13 hits and three errors. The final score was 15-3.
The Mohawks got on the board with four runs in the first inning and never looked back. They capped their attack with seven runs in the top of the seventh.
Clear Lake’s only runs were produced in the fifth inning. Andrew Theiss reached base on a walk and was advanced on a Caden Jones line drive single to left. Carson Toebe stepped to the plate and hit a hard ground ball and reached on an error to load the bases. Austin Warnke’s single scored two runs and Eric Ritter single to bring Toebe home.
Ritter took the loss for the Lions. The senior went one inning, allowing five runs on four hits, striking out two and walking one.
Four other Lions also spent time on the mound. Jett Neuberger threw two innings, giving up a hit and striking out two; Theiss went three and one-third innings and had seven runs scored with six hits, four walks and two strikeouts. Sophomore Justin Kerr and freshman Wesley Wharton saw limited action. Kerr surrendered three runs on a hit and two walks. Wharton gave up one hit.
Jones went two-for-four at the plate to lead Clear Lake. Warnke and Ritter had the Lions’ only other hits.