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Comets advance past Lions, 12-6; to face Go-Hawks in district final

Comets advance past Lions, 12-6; to face Go-Hawks in district final
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City senior Colton Slinger steals his 13th base of the season as Clear Lake second baseman Eric McHenry attempts to corral the throw.

By John Burbridge

WAVERLY — To go deep into the postseason, you likely need a deep pitching staff.

And that staff should not be made from a cookie cutter.

The Charles City Comets got yet another strong relief effort from their diverse arms corps while advancing past the Clear Lake Lions, 12-6, in the semifinal round of the Class 3A Substate 3-District 6 bracket, Friday at Wartburg College’s Hertel Field.

The Comets (17-16) will face Waverly-Shell Rock in the district final at 7 p.m. Monday at Hertel Field.

Charles City senior Jace Cajthaml clubbed a 3-run home run in the first inning to put the Comets up 3-1 after the Lions scored earlier. It was the first homer of the year for Cajthaml, who would go 3 for 4 for the night with 6 RBIs.

Colton Slinger was 2 for 3 with 3 runs scored and an RBI, and Tait Arndt had two hits and drove in a run for Charles City, which avenged a mercy-rule loss in the season-opener against Clear Lake, though many of Charles City’s key players had just made the full transition to baseball after an extended track and field season where they were state qualifiers.

In part what enabled the Comets to pull away from the Lions in a game that gave early indications it was going to be a back-and-forth slugfest was a solid middle relief effort from Carter Johanningmeier followed by Cole Reams, who pitch two scoreless innings to close the game.

Junior southpaw Elliott Sinwell, who leads the staff with victories with a 5-2 record, was touched for 4 earned runs in one-and-two-thirds innings. But in a scenario that has played out repeatedly during the Comets’ season, opposing teams that hit Charles City starters hard find themselves stymied in the latter innings by Comet relievers.

Just a theory, but the 11 pitchers who have thrown for Charles City this season all have distinct styles and release points, thus possibly challenging the hitting plane for opponents who get locked in against Comet starters.

Charles City scored all their runs in the first three innings, which included a 5-run rally in the second and a 4-run burst in the third.
While building their lead, the Comets took advantage of numerous miscues from the Lions, who committed six errors, most of them throwing.

Andrew Formanek had a pair of doubles and 2 RBI’s for the Lions, who finished the season at .500 (15-15).

Against the Go-Hawks this season, the Comets are 1-2 with all of the games being decided by 1 run. In fact, the last four games between the two teams have been decided by 1 run when going back to last year’s district final where the Go-Hawks held on and advanced in a 5-4 final after jumping out to a 5-0 lead.

The winner will face the winner of the Substate 3-District 5 final featuring Decorah and Xavier, the latter of which was ranked No. 1 in Class 3A in the final poll compiled by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association.

The substate final for a chance to advance to the State Baseball Championships will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday (July 24) at the home field of the highest seed.


Erik McHenry 3 2 2 0 Colton Slinger 3 3 2 1
Austin Warnke 4 0 1 1 JJ Ritter 2 2 0 0
Chase Stuver 2 1 0 0 Cole Reams 0 0 0 1
AJ Stevenson 4 0 1 0 Jace Cajthaml 4 2 3 6
Andrew Formanek 4 0 2 2 Tait Arndt 4 0 2 1
Eric Ritter 3 2 2 0 Elliott Sinwell 3 0 1 1
Mac Adams 4 0 0 0 Wyatt Stevenson 1 0 0 0
Caden Jones 3 0 1 0 Carter Johanningmeier 2 0 0 0
Mitchell Raber 3 1 1 1 Atticus Parrott 3 2 1 0
Ian Collins 2 1 1 0
*Colton Crooks 0 2 0 0
TOTALS 30 6 10 4 TOTALS 24 12 10 10
CLEAR LAKE 131 100 0 — 6
CHARLES CITY 345 000 x — 12
LOB–CLEAR LAKE 9, CHARLES CITY 6. ERR–Andrew Formanek (2),
Eric Ritter (2), Erik McHenry, AJ Stevenson, Atticus Parrott. 2B–Austin Warnke, Andrew Formanek (2), Eric Ritter, Erik McHenry. HR–Jace Cajthaml. HBP–Colton
Slinger, JJ Ritter. SACB–Ian Collins, Wyatt Stevenson, Cole Reams. SB–Elliott Sinwell.
Andrew Formanek 1.33 3 7 6 4 1 1
Mac Adams (L) 4.67 6 5 5 3 3 0
Elliott Sinwell 1.67 6 4 4 2 0 0
Carter Johanningmeier (W) 3.33 3 2 2 2 1 0
Cole Reams 2.00 1 0 0 2 3 0
PB–Cole Reams. WP–Elliott Sinwell, Cole Reams. BALK–Carter Johanningmeier (2). SO–Austin Warnke, Andrew Formanek, Eric Ritter, Mac Adams, JJ Ritter, Carter Johanningmeie, Jace Cajthaml, Ian Collins. BB–Chase Stuver
(2), Mitchell Raber, Caden Jones, Eric Ritter, Erik McHenry, JJ Ritter, Elliott Sinwell, Ian Collins, Atticus Parrott, Cole Reams (3).