WAPELLO — West Burlington High School baseball coach Pat McKasson found himself in a Catch 22 situation Saturday.
McKasson toyed with starting his ace pitcher, junior Dreyton LaVeine, for Saturday's Class 2A district quarterfinal game against Louisa-Muscatine, a team West Burlington beat, 10-0, just a month earlier.
But McKasson also knew Louisa-Muscatine is a team which likes to run, which its 105 stolen bases attests. McKasson felt LaVeine, one of the top catchers in southeast Iowa, could slow down Louisa-Muscatine's running game on the base paths.
McKasson and assistant coach Tim Gall, after a lengthy discussion, decided to roll the dice and put LaVeine behind the plate.
It didn't work out the way McKasson planned. By the time he inserted LaVeine as a pitcher in the second inning, the damage had been done as Louisa-Muscatine rolled to an 8-0 victory at Wapello High School.
Louisa-Muscatine (5-15) advances to a district semifinal to face top-ranked Wilton (22-4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Wilton.
West Burlington, which was limited to just one hit, concludes the campaign with an 8-16 record.
As it turned out, McKasson's best bet may have been to clone LaVeine.
"I probably should have started Dreyton, but again if we don't score a run, we're still playing," McKasson said. "Coach and I thought we could do what we wanted to. We knew they had a running game. We thought with Dreyton behind the plate was our best chance to shut them down, but we couldn't catch the ball."
Louisa-Muscatine jumped on West Burlington eighth-grade pitcher Hayden Vandenberg in the first inning. Cody Cavelage and Karson Cantrell walked to open the game and Keatyn Velez reached on an error which allowed Cavelage to score. LaVeine had two perfect throws on stolen base attempts, but both times the West Burlington players failed to field the throws.
A sacrifice fly by Kaiden Schneider and a run-scoring single by Michael Danz gave Louisa-Muscatine a quick 3-0 lead.
"That first inning we had the jitters. That's what we get for having four great days of practice. Maybe we should have gone the other way," McKasson said.
Louisa-Muscatine roughed up two more West Burlington pitchers for five more runs in the second. Chase Kruse had the key blow, a two-run single to center field. Schneider doubled in another run and Danz drove in another run. A balk brought home what proved to be the final run of the game.
"They hit the ball tonight. They hit the ball where we weren't and we hit the ball where they were. They played good defense. They made some outstanding plays. Their centerfielder made some play. They didn't make those plays the first game. Now this game they made them and that was the difference," McKasson said.
"We wanted to get on them early. We struck in the first inning. We got on them early and that's all that matters," Velez said.
That was more than enough run support for Velez, who allowed just one hit and walked just three to keep West Burlington in check. Velez missed the previous meeting between the teams with an injury, but he more than made up for it this time around with the season on the line.
"It was going good for me. My fastball was working and my curveball was working pretty good. I was trying to let them hit the ball and let my defense work and they did. I don't think we had any errors tonight, which is great," Velez said.
"The last time we didn't have Keatyn because he had a broken hand. We got to the South and we're trying to build for the future. We went down there and they took us for granted and it showed here tonight. We're a lot better team than people think. I think we can go out and surprise a lot of people," Louisa-Muscatine head coach Casey Cantrell said.
"All year he's been working up to this moment. We told him that all he's done to this point doesn't define you. It's what you do now. In a one-and-done situation he got the job done at an elite level. That's what we need to have from our other guys, too," Louisa-Muscatine pitching coach Austin Bohling said.
LaVeine fanned 10 batters in his 5 2/3 innings of relief work, allowing just three hits.
"Dreyton LaVeine pitched ... wow!. He had 10 Ks in 5 2/3. That's pretty impressive," McKasson said.
West Burlington graduates four seniors — Kody Payne, Cordell Scarborough, Tyler Dameron and Austin Mixer — but brings back plenty of young talent to build on.
"I hate to see the seniors go out like this, but somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose," McKasson said. "We lose four seniors. We're excited. Having Coach Gall on the sidelines helps. He has a lot of experience. He really helped. We'll get back at it."
WP — Keatyn Velez (1-5). LP — Hayden Vandenberg (2-2). Leading hitters — Louisa-Muscatine: Max McCulley 2-2, Chase Kruse 2-4. 2B — Kaieden Schneider (L-M). RBI — Louisa-Muscatine: Kruse 2, Schneider 2, Michael Danz 2.
Records: Louisa-Muscatine 5-15, West Burlington 8-16.