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Despite not winning state title, West is proud

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

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After falling behind early in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, Iowa City West’s baseball team proved its mettle against a stout West Des Moines Valley squad. They could’ve rolled over after the mammoth home run hit by Austin Stephens that put them down 6-0. But the Trojans showed why they deserved to play with the best teams in the state by battling the Tigers until the finish in a 10-5 loss.

A huge contributor to the momentum shift in the middle innings was the effort put forth by the senior class. Luke Crimmins, after opening the game at shortstop and playing solid defense at arguably the game’s toughest position for four innings, was called upon to be the stop-gap that would permit West to claw their way back into the competition. The Trojans reduced the Valley lead to 6-5 by the end of the sixth inning.

The Tigers responded to West by putting their first three batters on base in the top of the sixth. A beautiful bunt single by Valley’s nine-hitter Nate Meyer loaded the bases with no outs and set the table to have Valley regain control of the game, but Crimmins would have none of it.

With the final few grains of sand falling through the hourglass of Iowa City West’s season, Crimmins found himself facing the top of a vaunted Valley order. A hit of any kind would most likely cancel any plans that the Trojans had of hoisting their first-ever state baseball championship as again the bases were loaded with no outs.

But he accepted the challenge.

He struck out leadoff hitter Nolan Lodden, who’d already showed his patient eye drawing walks in two previous plate appearances.

He got Tanner Hinkle, who’d already ripped a double into the left-field corner and collected two RBIs on the day, to chop a ball to third baseman Tyus Adkins. After throwing the ball home for a force out, the Trojan defense nearly turned a double play.

Finally, he struck out number-three hitter Jeff Pullen looking on a 3-2 pitch, bringing the Trojan crowd to its feet in recognition of the effort Crimmins put into a spectacular half-inning of hurling.

“I thought Kellen and Luke were both phenomenal today,” said Trojan head coach Charlie Stumpf about his senior tandem. “Luke in that sixth inning ­… getting us out of there when Valley had the bases loaded and [the top of their lineup] coming up … he had us feeling really good about our chances.”

Right fielder Ryan Siems had nothing but positive things to say about his fellow seniors — Crimmins and West starting pitcher Kellen Yoder —performances on the mound.

“They both left it all out there. Kellen said he was fine but I’m not sure how much his injury from sub-state affected him today,” Siems said. “They both seemed like they had good stuff, but they missed a couple spots and Valley didn’t miss the mistakes.”

Although Iowa City West went on to lose the game, Crimmins gave himself a memorable final experience in his Trojan uniform. He plans on continuing his playing career in Minnesota at D-II Winona State.

 Following the game, Crimmins and his teammates were still in shock their season — and in some cases their careers — were finished.

“It’s just been so much fun,” the senior said. “We always found ways to win as a team, and it’s hard to believe that you’ll never play with these guys again.”


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