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CCA hangs on for substate win

Spartans retired in 8-7 postseason loss
The Solon dugout cheers on a rally during a Class 3A substate semifinal in Tiffin July 20. The Spartans clawed back from a 7-0 first-inning deficit.

TIFFIN– It was a pretty deep hole.
Solon’s varsity baseball squad fell behind by seven runs in the first inning of a Class 3A substate semifinal in Tiffin July 20 against Clear Creek Amana (CCA).
The Spartans roared back with their own big inning, but fell a run shy of extending the season with an 8-7 loss.
“It was not the start we envisioned, but one thing we really stressed going into the postseason was dealing with adversity,” noted Solon Head Baseball Coach Keith McSweeney. “I thought our guys fought through it and got back into the game as a result of their mental toughness.”
Things certainly went the Clippers’ way to start the game.
Neither Solon starting pitcher Jacob Smith, a junior, nor his replacement, freshman Blake Timmons, made it out of the first inning.
The first CCA batter reached after being hit by a pitch, and the next Clipper walked. A single loaded the bases and a balk brought home the first run of the game.
CCA would never trail.
After another run scored on a passed ball, an RBI single made it 3-0 and McSweeney brought Timmons in to pitch.
Another run was walked in and a CCA single made it 5-0 with no outs recorded.
Senior Sully Steen finally managed to staunch the bleeding, and he remained on the mound for the rest of the game.
The Solon defense turned a double play, but another run scored, and another single would make the Clipper lead 7-0 before the Spartans managed to end the inning.
Solon turned the corner in the top of the third.
Steen doubled, senior Cael O’Neill singled and Timmons juiced the bags after being hit by a pitch.
All three came home on a bases-clearing triple to the left field fence by incoming freshman Brett White.
“Brett's hit is what changed the game completely... big hit that really got us going,” McSweeney said. “It's not often that an eighth grader is able to come through in such a moment.”
The Spartans tacked on two more runs with RBI singles from senior Nolan Pattison and junior Brady Jeworrek to make it 7-5 heading into the middle innings.
The Clippers added their last run of the game in the bottom of the third going station to station with a single, a bunt sacrifice and another single.
CCA then held on as Solon made a late charge in the final two innings.
Jeworrek’s RBI double in the sixth made it 8-6, and his single in the seventh brought the Spartans within a run at 8-7.
Solon made the most of eight hits. Jeworrek went 2-4 at the plate and he and White each had three RBI.
Steen ended up pitching six innings of relief, allowing one unearned run on four hits while striking out four and walking none.
The season, shortened by a global pandemic, reminded McSweeney why he loves his job.
“Although we didn't achieve our end goal of getting to the state tournament, we just feel so fortunate to be granted the opportunity to have a season (at all),” he said in an email. “It didn't look promising in late April and early May, so the time together was really just gravy.”
From a preparation standpoint, coaches and the district had never asked more of a team in such a short amount of time, McSweeney said.
“We went double seasons for the duration of the season and the guys really bought in,” he added. “Spending so much time together really helped us build chemistry and I thought that was a difference maker.”
CCA advanced to the regional final against No. 1 seed Davenport Assumption July 22 in Davenport, and punched a ticket to the state tournament, defeating the Knights, 12-3.
The Spartans finished the year with a 14-8 record.
“As far as the future, we had some young guys really succeed this season and we believe we'll return the pieces from our current varsity roster, as well as from guys coming up, to make a run next season and those that follow,” McSweeney noted.