DEWITT - For the second straight summer, the Anamosa baseball team was in DeWitt playing a class 3A district semi-final game against the talented and third-ranked Sabers Friday, July 17.

      And, for the second straight summer, Central DeWitt fans were expecting blowout, most thought would come in less than seven innings.

      For the second straight summer, the Raiders just would not allow it to happen, though early on the Sabers appeared well on their way to a lopsided win.

      “We had a rough first inning, then took this thing the distance by playing some pretty solid baseball,” said Anamosa baseball coach Bryan McCray, as his team gave up six first inning runs and saw their 2020 campaign come to a close with a 10-3 setback that was much closer than the final score.

      “In that first inning it seemed DeWitt was finding all the holes and never really had a solid hit the entire inning, yet still scored six times. We had a key error in there that hurt as well, but overall, we should have been able to limit the damage and just weren’t able to get that done.”

      After the six-run first however, the Raiders were able to settle down and once again gave one of the best teams in all of class 3A a battle for the next six frames.

      “Our mantra all year has always been just go out and compete, and I thought the boys were able to do that,” McCray said. “They still fought hard even after the rough start and made it a game. DeWitt only outscored us 4-3 after the first inning. I don’t think there were probably too many people who thought that game was going to go the full seven innings after the way things started, but our guys have a lot of heart and they just continued to compete their butts off.”

      Sam Wilt got the start on the mound, and after yielding the six early runs, allowed just one more in his three innings of work.

      “I just couldn’t find the zone with my fastball and DeWitt took advantage,” said Wilt, who fanned six Saber batters.

      “They were able to get some weak hits and it just seemed like we couldn’t get out of that first inning. After that I started throwing more off-speed stuff and they weren’t hitting that as well. We stayed positive and made them work the full game to get the win.”

      Jake Jess came on in relief of Wilt in the fourth and was solid allowing three runs in his three innings of work.

      “My role is to come in and throw strikes and allow my fielders to make plays,” Jess said. “I felt like I had my good stuff and I just wanted to keep us in the game.

      “We can’t get down on ourselves if we fall behind early, we still need to believe and make plays. I thought we did a good job of that. If not for that first inning, we’re right there with another chance at a big win.”

      Anamosa got on the board in the top of the third when Wyatt Bickford led off the inning being hit by a pitch and came around to score after stealing a pair of bases.

      Trailing 9-1 in the sixth, a Grahm Humpal sacrifice fly plated teammate Eli Lehrman with the Raiders’ second run before Seth Schoon led off the seventh with a double and scored thanks to a Bickford ground out.

      “It was tough walking off the field at the end,” Jess said. “We wanted to go a little further for our seniors, but they’ve been a big part of this program improving so much over the last few years and hopefully they can come back and still be a part of the program like Walker (Marsh) did this year.”

      Schoon led the six-hit Raider offense with two hits.

      “I think we have a bright future, but it has to start with bringing the right mentality each and every game,” Wilt said. “Right now, we’re still learning how to win, and fighting through games like this one and never giving up will only make us better in the years to come.”

      Anamosa wraps the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign with a 4-8 overall record.

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