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City High capitalizes early, defeats Dubuque

BY TOM GOLDHAMMER | JUNE 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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The City High Little Hawks won the opener of a double-header over Dubuque Wahlert, 11-3, on Monday night. City High gained an early 5-run advantage over the Golden Eagles with a string of quality first-inning at bats.

The five-run cushion was more than enough for starting sophomore pitcher Mitch Wieland and the stingy Little Hawk defense — City held the lead for the entire game.

Dubuque starting pitcher Kyle Leubka threw a shaky one-third of an inning to start the game. The hurler walked six, and 5 runs crossed the plate — with the lone hit coming in the form of a bunt single. The Little Hawk hitters tried to jump on Leubka's off-speed deliveries but fought through the count time and time again to safely reach base.

One of the many keen-eyed at-bats in the opening frame came from junior catcher Tyler Stika, who said his strategy in digging in against a struggling pitcher boils down to keeping the momentum.

"[I] go out and make him work," Stika said. "If he's already struggling, you want to make him struggle that much more. Just use every advantage — that's what we're taught, to use everything we can throughout the game."

Assistant Coach Steve Wildman emphasized patience at the plate, which was crucial as the Little Hawks built their lead.

"You have to make sure you are working the pitcher and the pitcher isn't the one working you," he said.

The Little Hawks did work Leubka. A tight strike zone initially squeezed Leubka, and he was never quite able to escape. He one-third of an inning of work resulted in a 63.00 ERA for the game.

Wieland had a much nicer go of it, walking 4 Golden Eagles and allowing 2 earned runs over the course of 4 2/3 innings. Establishing an effective fastball early kept the Wahlert hitters from making solid contact. Wieland was replaced by junior Jack Frakes, who allowed just one unearned run and no hits over the final 2 1/3 innings. Frakes also finished his day at the plate going 2-for-5, including a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the fourth that broke the game open.

City High flashed leather anytime Wahlert was able to mount an offense. Senior center fielder Ryan Duncan provided an early spectacle in the top of the second inning, unleashing a missile on a tag-up play to eliminate a brief Golden Eagle threat.

Junior shortstop Sam Mrstik turned a no-out, runners on the corners jam in the top of the fourth into a harmless run by turning a ground-ball double play.

The rest of the protection for Wieland, while less exciting, kept Dubuque in check most of the game.

The Little Hawks thrived because they were consistent in the field.

Frakes stressed the importance of having confidence in the fielders behind him.

"I know when I'm out there pitching, it's really tough when you don't have a defense that can back you up," he said. "I'm not going to blow it by anybody — kind of a contact pitcher — so I need a good defense behind me, and my last two outings, they've really helped me out."


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