It has already happened twice this season but due to the magic of the Iowa high school baseball postseason, the Class 2A world will be graced once again with an Ogden vs. Van Meter baseball contest.
Following Ogden’s 7-2 defeat over perennial state tournament qualifier Kuemper Catholic, the Substate 7 final will include not just a battle of the Bulldogs, but the third time these two teams will have squared off in the 2019 campaign. It seems like quite a fitting match-up for Van Meter as the last time they squared off against Ogden was the initiation of the 2019 season back on May 23. The game to head to state is filled with intrigue as Ogden was one of just three teams across the entire 2019 season so far to find a way to defeat the Bulldogs. That game was one of just two times all season long where the Bulldogs of Van Meter did not touch up the scoreboard. The game also features two of the top three teams within the West Central Activities Conference landscape. It will be a chance to solidify the conference even more despite Van Meter having already captured an eighth straight conference title.
It certainly won’t be easy for Van Meter facing an Ogden squad who has been pretty potent against conference opponents averaging nearly three extra-base hits per game. Ogden’s overall numbers might not jump off the page but they have a knack of getting on base with a mark of .397. Offensively they are led by a strong senior core beginning with Jacob Craven who leads the Ogden Bulldogs in extra-base hits (12). Charlie Lake has a tie for the team lead in RBI’s (20) while Kayden Kruse has been a pillar of consistency striking a team-best 36 hits for the season.
Despite all of those good numbers, the Van Meter Bulldogs are not shying away from the fight especially with history on their side. Over the past 17 match-ups dating back to the 2011 season, Van Meter has faltered just twice to their Bulldog counterparts. Van Meter has continued to keep up with that historical trend of winning against Ogden and they’ve been able to do so in a variety of ways. Van Meter has prided themselves on scoring first and over the past 17 match-ups against Ogden, they’ve struck first nine times, one of the best marks for the Bulldogs against any West Central Activities Conference teams. Van Meter has never been a one-trick pony, especially against Ogden as they’ve been able to produce a come from behind win in seven of the last 17 games vs. the opposing Bulldogs.
Despite what the Van Meter Bulldogs and their strong season in 2018, the 2019 edition may just have an even more potent lineup. Not only do the Bulldogs return over 90 percent of their starting lineup and offensive production. Van Meter has slugged 81 extra-base hits which ranks as a top-five mark across the entire Class 2A landscape. Their 257 RBI’s rank second among all Class 2A and while there are many reasons as to why that may be, there are just a few that stand out to head coach Eben Baumhover.
Many on this team have been playing varsity level baseball for at least one or two years,” began Baumhover. “Even if they haven’t been playing varsity baseball long, most of these guys have played varsity at some sport and know the little things to do in order to win. The great thing about Van Meter is that the athletes know how to be successful by the time they are done with their freshman years.”
The Bulldog squared match-up with a trip to Principal Park is on the line tonight beginning at 7 p.m. from Ankeny Centennial High School.