URBANDALE, Iowa — Brock Skoog remembers his last home run well.
He was 12 years old, playing for the Urbandale All-Stars in the championship game of the state tournament. His team lost.
His next one topped that one.
The senior slammed a 2-1 offering over the left-field fence at Barton Field for a two-run, walk-off homer, lifting the J-Hawks past Council Bluffs Lewis Central 4-3 in a classic nine-inning Class 4-A, Substate 8 opener before a reporter-estimated 350.
Skoog was asked what he thought when it left his bat.
“It’s gone,’’ he said. “Best-feeling hit I’ve ever had. I knew right away.’’
Skoog’s first varsity home run propels third-seeded Urbandale (27-14) into Monday’s substate semifinal at second-seeded Abraham Lincoln (21-18), which beat Ames in extra innings.
Fourth-seeded Lewis Central closed at 26-8 in cruel fashion.
“That’s what we tried to explain to them, how brutal baseball can be and how the whole game can turn on one pitch,’’ L.C. coach Lee Toole said. “The makeup of this team is unbelievable. They never quit. They never give up. I don’t care what the score is. They fight and battle.’’
Lewis Central put itself in the driver’s seat in the top of the ninth with some timely hitting and daring baserunning.
Alec Mass led off with a single and Brendon Figueroa reached when the J-Hawks fielded his bunt and got the force at second.
Figueroa stole second and aggressively took third on Chase Hedrick’s grounder into the hole between shortstop and third. Hedrick reached on the infield hit. Max Duggan bounced one to Michael Van Riessen at third. He went to second for the force and Figueroa sprinted for home. The catcher couldn’t secure the throw to the plate and Figueroa pumped his fist as the Titans took the 3-2 lead.
After a 29-pitch first inning, Lewis Central sophomore starter Drake Nettles threw an outstanding game to keep his team in contention. After Urbandale scored single runs in the first and third, he posted five straight zeroes before exiting after eight full innings.
“He struggled early but really settled in and gave us a chance,’’ Toole said.
Duggan relieved Nettles and struck out the first batter. Casey Steen singled to set the stage for Skoog’s improbable blast.
“I was just trying to get on base and do whatever I could for my team,’’ Skoog said. “I knew he couldn’t throw his curveball (at 2-1). He threw me a fastball before and I wanted to swing, but I wanted to see a strike first. I knew if he threw me that pitch again I was going to take a hack at it and try to hit it hard somewhere.’’
Skoog also was the winning pitcher. He allowed one run in his three innings of relief.
“He’s a gamer, he’s a winner,’’ Urbandale coach Jeremy Heinen said. “Brock Skoog, incredible.’’
Lewis Central graduates six seniors: Figueroa, Hedrick, Mass, Joel Thompson, Reece Blay and Kyle Arrington.
“This senior group’s unbelievable, the things that they’ve done for four years,’’ Toole said. “A handful of them started as freshmen and a larger group played as sophomores. They kept us on the map. Without these seniors, we wouldn’t be in this position.’’
CB Lewis Central (26-8).......002 000 001—3 8 3
Urbandale (27-14).............101 000 002—4 7 2
W: Brock Skoog. L: Max Duggan. 2B: LC, Alec Mass. U, Skoog. HR: U, Skoog (1).