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South Tama rallies in extra innings to end Comets’ season

Charles City falls in Class 3A-District 6 final 10-4 after Tait Arndt's deep drive nearly won it for the Comets in the bottom of the seventh

South Tama rallies in extra innings to end Comets' season
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City third baseman Logan Carey throws across the diamond during Monday’s Class 3A-District 6 championship game, which South Tama won 10-4 in eight innings.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — You could almost hear the late, great Harry Carey shout it from the Wrigley Field rafters.

“It might be! … It could be!”

Charles City senior Tait Arndt had been battling starting-pitching counterpart Mickey Wanatee with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the score tied at 4 during Monday’s Class 3A-District 6 championship pitting the hosting Comets against the upstart South Tama Trojans.

Wanatee got up 1-2 on the hitter before Arndt repeatedly spoiled pitches with a series of foul balls and worked the count to 3-2.

Finally, Arndt — who is the Comets’ home-run leader— got a pitch he could drive sending Trojan center fielder Logan Arp back to the fence.

Unfortunately for the Comets, it was one of those “One more biscuit for breakfast” moments short of a walk-off dinger as Arp was able to haul the drive in, enabling the Trojans to stay alive to fight another inning.

And with a subsequent 6-run rally in the eighth, South Tama is still alive to fight another game as it advances to the Substate 3 title game by way of a 10-4 final.

Arndt, who will continue his baseball career at Wartburg College, pitched into the eighth inning but was relieved after the first two Trojans got on base.

After Wanatee, who had a double and a game-tying home run, laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up a base, Charles City opted to intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases for four-base force-out options.

Against Trojan Brayden Smith, Comet reliever Atticus Parrott looked as if he was going to get a ring-up with a two-strike curveball that looked as if it fooled Smith but apparently crossed the plate a little too high according to the umpire.

Two pitches later with the count at 3-2, Smith singled to break the tie.

Jordan Bly followed with a 2-RBI single to extend the lead before the Trojans continued to rally while scoring 2 more runs on wild pitches.

“It’s a game of inches, and sometimes that’s all it takes,” said Comet head coach Tyler Downing, whose team finished the season at 9-9.

“We made a couple of mistakes, and they took advantage of them. They were the better team today.”

South Tama came into the postseason with a 4-14 record. On Friday, the Trojans upset district top seed and Class 3A Top 10-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock 4-2.

The Trojans will face Benton Community at substate on Wednesday — the Bobcats dethroned defending Class 3A champion Xavier on Monday in a 3-2 final that went 10 innings.

After Arndt and Wanatee matched zeroes through three innings, the Trojans rallied for 3 runs in the fourth inning.

The way Wanatee was throwing BBs — he would record 13 strikeouts in seven innings — it looked as if the 3-run lead would be a formidable mountain to scale for the Comets.

But Charles City answered with 3 runs of its own in the latter half of the inning. Arndt, Tino Tamayo and Logan Carey all doubled in the frame to help tie the score.

The Comets took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning when Cael Bohlen — who had previously singled, advanced to second on Jeremiah Chapman’s sacrifice bunt, and then caught the Trojans napping to steal third base uncontested — scored on an infield error on a ball batted by Parrott.

Stopped short of a second-straight substate championship appearance, this season’s end may have carried more emotional weight for the Comets than past finales.

“We’re likely not going to get together for an end-of-season banquet or anything like that due to the coronavirus situation, so this is it for us,” Downing said. “Being in Iowa, the only state holding high school baseball this season, we’re very fortunate for the opportunity to play.

“Our kids took advantage of that opportunity by the work they put in to get ready for this season.”

CHARLES CITY 7, DECORAH 0: Playing arguably their best game of the season, the Charles City Comets advanced to the district finals by shutting out the Vikings on their own field last Friday in the semis.

It was a much different result from the last time the Comets traveled to Decorah several weeks before when they dropped the “doubleheader from hell” to the Vikings as Charles City pitchers issued a total of 21 walks during the exceeding long evening that didn’t see the Comets and their entourage return home until past midnight.

Charles City’s pitching was much more effective when the two teams met again in the postseason. Arndt and Parrott combined for a 1-hit shutout with Arndt yielding no hits through five innings before Parrott finished the final two innings with nary a threat from the Vikings.

Arndt and Parrott also did some damage with their bats, figuratively as well as literally.

Parrott gave the Comets a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when his first home run of the season dinged the scoreboard just beyond the left-field fence.

Then in the third, Arndt put a dent on the roof of a tin shed also beyond the left-field fence for a 3-run shot to extend the lead to 5-0. For Arndt, it was his team-leading third homer of the season.

The damage continued in the seventh when Ritter banged the shed for a solo shot — the first varsity home run for the Charles City junior — to cap the scoring.

Carey had two hits including a double, and Bohlen doubled and scored a run for the Comets.

Class 3A-District 6 Championship

Logan Arp 5 1 1 0 Jeremiah Chapman 3 0 0 0
Matt Wiese 5 2 2 0 JJ Ritter 4 0 0 0
Mickey Wanatee 3 1 2 1 Tait Arndt 3 0 1 0
Lane Lekin 3 1 0 1 Atticus Parrott 4 1 1 1
Brayden Smith 3 2 2 2 Jaxon Daniels 4 0 0 1
Jordan Bly 4 0 1 3 Tino Tamayo 4 1 1 1
Kyler Smith 4 1 0 0 Logan Carey 4 0 1 1
Jacob Collison 3 0 0 0 Colton Crooks 2 0 0 0
Gavin Jimenez 3 0 1 1 Cael Bohlen 3 1 1 0
Garrett Arp 1 1 0 0 *Owen Weber 0 1 0 0
*Logan Schmidt 0 1 0 0
TOTALS 34 10 9 8 TOTALS 31 4 5 4
SOUTH TAMA 000 301 06 — 10
CHARLES CITY 000 310 00 — 4
LOB–SOUTH TAMA 4, CHARLES CITY 6. ERR–Lane Lekin, BraydenSmith, Logan Carey, JJ Ritter, Jaxon Daniels. 2B–BraydenSmith, Mickey Wanatee, Logan Carey, Tino Tamayo, Tait Arndt.HR–Mickey Wanatee. HBP–Colton Crooks, Tait Arndt.
SACB–Mickey Wanatee, Jeremiah Chapman. SB–Brayden Smith,Cael Bohlen, Jaxon Daniels.
Mickey Wanatee (W) 7.00 5 4 0 0 12 0
Jacob Collison 1.00 0 0 0 0 2 0
Tait Arndt (L) 7.00 6 6 4 1 8 1
Atticus Parrott 1.00 3 4 3 2 1 0
PB–Matt Wiese. WP–Mickey Wanatee, Atticus Parrott (2).SO–Lane Lekin, Garrett Arp, Gavin Jimenez, Jacob Collison,Matt Wiese (2), Logan Arp (2), Kyler Smith, Cael Bohlen,Logan Carey (2), JJ Ritter (2), Tino Tamayo (2), ColtonCrooks, Jeremiah Chapman (3), Jaxon Daniels (2), Tait Arndt.
BB–Lane Lekin, Brayden Smith, Jacob Collison.