Their teams won't play each other in the postseason, but each coach talked about a "tournament-like atmosphere" after the Fort Dodge baseball team posted a 4-0 win over city-rival St. Edmond here last night at Harlan Rogers Park.
The Dodgers (25-4 overall) rode the three-hit pitching of senior Luke Vandermaten to continue their torrid June pace, winning for the 19th time in their last 20 outings. They also posted their 11th win in the last 14 meetings against the Gaels (20-7).
Ranked 4th in Class 4A, the Dodgers will more than likely host at least one 4A substate game here at Rogers Park. The Dodgers' postseason pairings haven't been announced, but they will probably be the No. 1 seed in the sub-state.
St. Edmond, ranked 4th in Class 2A, will also take the field at Rogers Park for the postseason, on July 10 against either Eagle Grove or South Central Calhoun.
"We've been talking that this game would be a great preview for the postseason," said Dodger coach Matt Elsbecker. "We get to play a great team like St. Edmond, it's at Harlan Rogers and it's July-like weather. Just like we will in tournament games, we had to make some adjustments and we did. We had some clutch hitting tonight."
St. Edmond coach Joe Shanks echoed Elsbecker's thoughts after the loss.
Fort Dodge 4, St. Edmond 0
Fort Dodge 000 040 0 - 4 7 1
St. Edmond 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Luke Vandermaten and Devon Harms. Neil Flattery and Matthew Bocken. PB- Bocken. 2B- FD: Will Gormally, Sam Edwards. Sac- FD: Vandermaten, JC Hatcher; SE: Cal Coleman. SacF- Vandermaten. T- 1:23.
"It's good for us to see something like this. It was a tournament atmosphere and there was a big crowd. (Vandermaten) threw well. We don't see a lot of pitchers with that type of velocity.
"They are a good 4A baseball team. We had to almost play perfect to stay with them."
The Gaels actually did that for four innings, but a shaky fifth inning led to all four Dodger runs.
Devon Harms led off the 5th with a single for the Dodgers and JC Hatcher reached when he laid down a bunt, but the Gaels couldn't field it cleanly. Austin Halligan then reached on a bunt single to load the bases.
Senior Will Gormally provided the first big blow of the game, smacking a double to left to score a pair of runs. Gormally, though, had to come out of the game after his big hit after battling dehydration during the game.
Vandermaten then helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly to left and Sam Edwards drove home the final run with a double to center.
Vandermaten allowed just single hits in three different frames and sat the Gaels down in order three times, including the bottom of the seventh. The Gaels' only real threat came in the third when Matthew Bocken singled and courtesy runner Sam Kolacia moved to second on a bunt. But he would go no farther.
Neil Flattery was the tough-luck loser for the Gaels. He allowed just seven hits, but four came in the fifth inning. He had one strikeout and one walk. The Gaels committed two errors.
"Defensively we made some plays, but we had that one bad inning," said Shanks. "Neil had a gutty performance. We just have to play better."
Other than the fifth inning, the Dodgers had just one runner reach third base. Gormally led off the game with a single and moved to third on an error by the Gaels. However, he was caught in a rundown between third and home after Flattery fielded a sharp grounder back to the mound.
Vandermaten finished with five strikeouts and didn't' walk a batter. The Dodgers committed one error in the fifth, but Vandermaten proceeded to retire seven of the next eight Gaels, including five straight to end the game.
Fort Dodge will continue its busy week, playing its 7th and 8th games of the week today playing No. 1 (3A) Sioux City Heelan and Bettendorft in the Saydel Tournament at Grand View College.
"We feel good about this game, but we are back on the bus and back at it tomorrow," said Elsbecker. "It's a credit to these kids to stay right in the middle and give themselves a chance."
The Gaels return to action Monday at Hampton-Dumont in a possible tournament preview. The Gaels and Bulldogs could meet in the district final at Rogers Park if both survive semifinal games.
Fort Dodge won the JV game last night, 5-1.
Keegan Gormally had two hits for the Dodgers. Eric Puls was the winning pitcher.
Robert Flattery went 3-for-3 for the Gaels.