Words? Who needs words?
Josey Garmon’s big breath said it all. The Davis County senior was hardly the only Bloomfield native to finally exhale late Saturday in Eddyville after an amazing Class 2A, District 10 final.
After over two hours — and nine innings — of extremely tense postseason baseball action, every player, coach and fan of the defending Class 2A state champions also let out a huge sighs of relief. It took that long for the top-ranked Mustangs to gain the advantage of the scoreboard against South Central Conference rival Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.
After fighting from behind all night to keep the defense of their state title alive, the Mustangs finally got the lead and the win on what seemed like a harmless ground ball to short. Park Mikels’s grounder took one odd hop, forcing E-B-F shortstop Trevor Swartz into a throwing error that allowed Connor Young to come home with the winning run in a 5-4, nine-inning district championship thriller.
“It was crazy. The dugout was just nuts,” Garmon said after the win. “I’m just speechless right now.”
Garmon and his Mustang teammates move on to their third straight substate final Tuesday night in Mount Pleasant. Davis County (40-1) faces Wapello (20-12), a 5-2 winner in the District 9 final over Central Lee, for Class 2A’s Substate 5 berth to the Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament.
No one was more relieved to move on than Young, who was right in the middle of the late-game drama after reaching base in both the seventh and ninth innings with the score tied.
“I was just hoping I’d score on that last play. I was about to throw up,” Young said after coming up big in the ninth with a one-out single before scoring the game winning run. “It was awful, but we just kept battling and battling until we finally came through.”
While one team celebrated a thrilling comeback win, the other was left to ponder what might have been. E-B-F head baseball coach Rod Ashman talked about his team’s fifth and best chance this season to take down the state’s top team.
“When you play that many innings, it’s always tough to lose,” Ashman said. “Things sometimes just don’t go your way. We were almost in the driver’s seat. If we could have gotten one more run, we could have had it.”
In their fifth matchup with Davis County, E-B-F showed a renewed confidence at the plate. The Rockets, who scored just three runs in four regular season meetings with the Mustangs, stunned the large Davis County fanbase in the opening inning by loading the bases against Mustang ace Calvin Mathews.
After getting Craig Larkin to ground into a force out at home, Mathews was one out away from getting out of the jam. Instead, Jacob Lane drilled a bases-clearing double to the right-center gap to put the Rockets in front, 3-0.
“I think I was trying to overthrow early on,” Mathews said. “As the game went on, I was able to get into more of a groove.”
Despite several chances to score throughout the night, the Mustangs’ potent offense was held hitless for the first three innings by E-B-F starter Craig Larkin. Lane then helped pad the Rocket lead by scoring E-B-F’s fourth run on Lane Wells’ fourth-inning double.
Suddenly, the end of the 2A title reign of the Mustangs became a very real possibility.
“When it was 3-0, we weren’t too concerned. We knew we could come back,” Garmon said. “When they scored that fourth run, that’s when we knew we had to get serious.”
Garmon helped spark the Mustang rally, hitting consecutive doubles and scoring two Mustang runs to erase the Rocket lead. After scoring a fifth-inning run on brother Wyatt Garmon’s two-out hit, Garmon led off the bottom of the seventh by driving a 3-1 pitch into the left-center gap.
“I told myself I’m not going down in my senior year in the district final,” Garmon said. “We’re going to state, and I kept telling myself that before I came up in the seventh.”
Clint Foster followed Garmon’s second double with one of his own on the next pitch from relief hurler Christian Bambrook, tying the game at 4-4. An error on a Young sacrifice bunt put Foster at third with no one out and the Mustangs close to winning in regulation.
Instead, Swartz snared a line drive by Park Mikels and doubled up Foster. Bambrook then struck out Austin Roberts to force extra innings.
“I told our coaches I’ve never seen a triple-play before and we sure could have used one right then,” Ashman joked. “That was a great play by Trevor. We don’t get to the ninth without it.”
Davis County’s ace kept E-B-F off the board through the ninth. In his final two innings of work, Mathews struck out all six batters to finish with 18 strikeouts over nine innings of work.
“I think it was probably adrenaline more then anything,” Mathews said about his late-game strength. “I was upset with how the seventh inning ended, but I knew if I could keep pumping strikes we’d have a chance. I was never really tired. I knew we’d get a run across.”
“Calvin’s born to be a pitcher. It’s what he was meant to do,” Garmon added.
E-B-F came within one errant throw of outlasting Mathews, who reached the state-mandated nine-inning single game limit on the hill and would not have pitched in the 10th. It is one of several things the Rockets will reflect on after wrapping up a 25-11 season by nearly dethroning the top team in Class 2A.
“We’re going to miss our seven seniors, including Craig, but we’ve got a lot to look forward to next year,” Ashman said. “We’ve made it to the district final each of the last two years. Next year, maybe we’ll take it a little farther.”
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 10 FINALS
No. 1 Davis County 5, Eddyville-Blakesburg 4 (9)
E-B 300 100 000 — 4 6 4
D.C. 000 120 101 — 5 10 1
Eddyville-Blakesburg battery — Craig Larkin (5IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 6K, 2BB, 2HBP), Christian Bambrook (2IP, 4H, R, ER, K, 2BB) and Larkin (L, 6-4) (1 2/3IP, H, R, 2K), Brett Roberts catching.
2B — Jacob Lane, Lane Wells.
Hits — Lane 3-4, Wells 1-3, Tyler Archer 1-4, Bambrook 1-4.
RBI — Lane 3, Wells.
Runs — Archer, Bambrook, Lane, Ben Roberts.
Davis County battery — Calvin Mathews (W, 12-0) (9IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 18K, BB), Calvin Utt catching.
2B — Josey Garmon 2, Clint Foster.
Hits — Foster 2-5, J. Garmon 2-5, Wyatt Garmon 1-2, Connor Young 1-2, Josh Martsching 1-3, Austin Roberts 1-3, Jacob Davidson 1-4, Park Mikels 1-4.
RBI — W. Garmon 2, Foster, Roberts.
Runs — J. Garmon 2, Foster, Martsching, Young.
Words? Who needs words?
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