DES MOINES - The Fort Dodge baseball team stormed ahead of West Des Moines Dowling in a Class 4A state quarterfinal here Wednesday night before severe weather enveloped Principal Park and postponed the contest.
The game will resume at 10 a.m. Thursday morning in the top of the second inning with the third-seeded Dodgers leading the No. 6 seed Maroons, 1-0.
Fort Dodge (34-7 overall) plated a run in the bottom of the first when junior Tommy Halligan delivered an RBI single just as the winds began to whip. By the time Dodger senior starter Will Gormally had finished his warm-up tosses to open the second frame, lightning began to flash and officials placed the game in a weather delay nearly 20 minutes after the 8:35 p.m. first pitch.
The Principal Park grounds crew immediately covered the field with tarp, and approximately 10 minutes later, heavy rain began to fall. Fans had already been instructed to exit to the concourse area, where they waited out the delay.
By 9:30 p.m. the much-needed precipitation had slowed, but lightning remained an issue. The announcement to call it a night came just before 10 p.m.
Another storm engulfed the downtown area 20 minutes later, delivering the heaviest rain yet.
Fort Dodge is making its second consecutive state baseball appearance and third in four years. The CIML Iowa Conference champion Dodgers, who have already tied a program record for single-season victories despite graduating seven senior starters from last summer's semifinal squad, finished with a No. 4 ranking in the final IBCA poll.
Dowling (32-10) is the defending 4A title holder. Fort Dodge, which has reached the large-class final four in each of its last three appearances here since 2009, defeated the Maroons by a 4-2 count at Dodger Stadium in June.
Head coach Matt Elsbecker's squad leads the 4A field in batting average (.372), while Dowling holds the top team earned run average (1.37) and lowest opponent batting average (.183).
Jake Reinhardt earned the start for Dowling. He surrendered a leadoff single to Gormally and Halligan's run-scoring single in the first.
Gormally worked his way around a leadoff walk to Jacob Stacy in his inning of work.
In what has become typical of Dodger trips to Des Moines, fans wearing red along the first-base side easily out-numbered Maroon supporters despite Dowling's closer proximity to the city. They were on their feet when Halligan roped his base hit, but then they scrambled for cover moments later when the thunderstorm arrived.