DCG baseball recap: Power keeps win streak alive

Sean Cordy, Correspondent
Special to Dallas County News
DCG players meet at the pitcher's mound during the postseason opener against Winterset on Friday, July 8, 2022.

Riding their hottest win streak of the year, the stars looked aligned to make a run this postseason. That was quickly upended, but that didn’t take anything from the team’s accomplishments this season.

Streak Continues

For the fourth year in a row, the Mustangs finished the season with a winning record (21-15). But for the first time in that span, were not able to advance past the first round of substate. As some form of consolation — and perhaps some lingering thoughts of “what if” — the team that beat them, Winterset, made it all the way to the state tournament. It wasn’t just some scrappy team that had a good night and pulled off an upset.

This season saw the DCG make quite the turnaround though after starting the season with an 3-8 record. Having made a schedule with some of the top teams in the state with the likes of Urbandale, Waukee (cancelled this year), the aforementioned Winterset, Johnston, Des Moines Christian, Gilbert and Van Meter, there are bound to be a few rocky spots. 

But as the Mustangs proved this year, they were capable of learning from them and turning up the heat. After that rough start, Dallas Center would win 18 of their last 25 games.

Clayton Campidilli swings at a pitch during the postseason opener against Winterset on Friday, July 8, 2022.

Bash Bros

Oakland had Mark McGwire and Jose Conseco. Dallas Center-Grimes has Clayton Campidilli and Dariel Santana, the only duo to rank in the top 10 home run hitters this year. Together, they launched a total of 23 long balls. And the best part for the Mustangs? They’re both incoming seniors.

Last year, Campidilli hit seven home runs as a sophomore to lead the Little Hawkeye Conference. This year, he doubled that total to 14 to lead that state tied with 2022 Iowa commit Reese Moore. 

Campidilli’s name is also hitched to another pro prospect, Winterset’s Justin Hackett who is bound for TCU this year if he doesn’t sign with an MLB team after this week’s draft. Ranked second in Iowa with 121 strikeouts this year, Hackett was rarely beaten by batter. DCG’s platinum slugger was the exception as the only player to hit a home run against Hackett this year.

And he wasn’t just hitting with power, batting .435 for the year and drove in a total of 38 runs to go with his 36 trips across home plate.

Additionally, Campidilli was one of just three players along with Moore and Independence’s Mitchell Johnson this year to have three home runs in a single game. 

Santana had nine homers to his name, getting two in the same night against Oskaloosa for his peak performance this year. He was second on the team with 23 RBI to Campidilli’s 38.

Dariel Santana gets ready to take the plate during a game against Grinnell on Friday, June 17, 2022, in Dallas Center.

Moving Forward

Of their 10 players that started in at least 20 games this season, six are seniors. The returning crew of primary starters in addition to the Bash Bros are Trevor Hamil and Ty Mikkelsen. Both had their ups and downs this year, and hopefully another year under the belt can bring their more constant success like their departing teammates.

A fixture of DCG athletics, Gavin Rupp leaves as the team’s top base stealer. Isaac Short was a sure hand behind the plate, and along with Spencer Hall, was a consistent contributor with a bat as well. All three will be pieces that will need to be filled by the the Mustangs’ farm system.

While the team loses a fair share of batting production, the bullpen looks to be in good order. Overall, the rotation loses just six starts between three pitchers. Most of the arms this year should all return, including resident ace Keaton Fenn who held a 6-1 record with a 2.73 ERA and led the team with 75 strikeouts. Clayton Halverson wasn’t far behind, though, with a 5-3 record, 2.41 ERA and 68 strikeouts.

Clayton Halverson throws a pitch during the postseason opener against Winterset on Friday, July 8, 2022.