DES MOINES — On Harlan Community’s list of most memorable regular-season baseball games this summer, this one might be at the bottom.
On June 14, the Cyclones played host to defending Class 3-A champion Dallas Center-Grimes in a contest moved up to 5 p.m. due to possible storms developing. With the wind blowing in, Mustangs Jake Lewis (three innings), Max Balzer (three) and Sam Wadsworth (one) combined on a no-hitter in their 3-0 victory.
“We didn’t play very well,’’ Harlan coach Steve Daeges said. “You can look at that game, but I don’t think you can (draw any conclusions) at all.’’
We’ll find out Tuesday, as the teams meet again with bigger stakes on the line. Third-rated, second-seeded Harlan (28-7) challenges unrated, seventh-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes (21-13) in an 8 p.m. 3-A state quarterfinal at Principal Park, home of the Class AAA Iowa Cubs. It’s Harlan’s 13th state appearance and third straight, while Dallas Center-Grimes has advanced for the fifth time.
Daeges has taken great pleasure in seeing this club reach the final eight because it doesn’t feature a high-powered offense or pitchers who will wow you with their stuff. It must do the little things correctly to be effective.
“I thought we jelled pretty good together as a team the last few weeks,’’ Daeges said. “I think the key is that for the most part we were able to throw strikes.’’
Senior David Ratigan (7-1, 2.11 ERA) will get the nod against the Mustangs. He’s coming off a complete-game 7-1 win over Glenwood in the substate final in which he allowed five hits and no earned runs.
“David’s pitched well there before,’’ said Daeges, who owns a 525-183 (.742) career mark and has guided 11 of the school’s 13 state teams. “He was really good against Glenwood. He was able to throw his fastball where he wanted and he got his offspeed stuff over. He’s been our best in situations like this the last three years.’’
Harlan’s batting leaders have been senior Jake Daeges (.343, 28 RBIs), eighth-grader Dillon Sears (.333, 11 SB), junior Nate Gettys (.319, 11 2B, 34 SB) and Ratigan (.297, 35 RBIs).
Dallas Center-Grimes has just two players batting over .310 — Tyler Pierson (.378) and Lewis (.374). The left-handed Lewis (7-3, 2.10 ERA) is expected to get the start. Coach Daeges said that could have an effect on his team’s aggressiveness on the basepaths.
Harlan’s quarterfinal experiences the past two seasons have been vastly different. Last season the Cyclones never got untracked in a 12-1, five-inning loss to Western Dubuque. In 2011, they entered with a modest 19-14 record and knocked off Boone (6-4) and Washington (8-2) before falling to Solon (6-1) in the title game.
“I don’t know if there’s any one thing you can put your finger on,’’ Daeges said. “I think it is important to come out of the gate and play well.’’