The Johnston baseball team showed on Monday why the Dragons are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
Johnston rolled to a 14-3 victory over visiting Ankeny Centennial in six innings, then completed a sweep of the doubleheader with a 4-3 win in eight innings. It was the CIML Central Conference opener for both squads.
“There’s no doubt that right now they’re the best team in the state,” Centennial coach Mark Hey said of the Dragons. “They’re playing at a really high level.”
Centennial (4-2) held a 3-1 lead in the nightcap before Johnston (10-0) rallied. The Dragons got a run in the fifth inning and another one in the sixth to tie the game, then scored the winning run in the eighth.
“I hope our guys understand how good they really are,” Hey said. “We made some mistakes in the second game, and yet we were still in it right until the very end. Hopefully, it was a growth game for us.”
Cory Prange hit a two-run homer for the Jaguars. Trey Morris had an RBI double.
Ryan Vermeer (0-1) took the loss in relief of Tyler Heinzerling, who pitched 5 1/3 effective innings for the Jaguars, allowing just three runs. He walked two and had four strikeouts.
“Tyler was outstanding,” Hey said. “He really was in command of all of his pitches and hit some really good spots.”
Nick Crandell got the win for Johnston with three scoreless innings of relief. He combined with Jacob Tobey on a six-hitter.
Gabe Swansen went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs for the Dragons, who have now scored 148 runs in 10 games. In the first game, Swansen homered and drove in four runs.
Johnston pounded out 10 hits in the opener, including four home runs. Peyton Williams went 3-for-3 with two homers, a triple and four RBIs.
“What makes their hitters so good is that they just don’t miss mistakes,” Hey said. “You can get them out if you make perfect pitches, but if you make a couple of mistakes they don’t miss them.”
Ben Wilmes also homered for the Dragons, who erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning to end the game.
“There was a short rain delay toward the end of the first game,” Hey said. “After the delay, we just didn’t come back and things got away from us in the bottom of the sixth. Sometimes you have to ask your pitcher to bite the bullet with a lot of games coming up yet this week, and that’s kind of what happened.”
Morris (1-1) took the loss, allowing five earned runs over the first four innings. He finished with six strikeouts.
Jackson Vines was the winning pitcher. He had nine strikeouts over the first 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits.
The victory was Johnston’s eighth in a row via the 10-run mercy rule before that streak ended in the second game.