Iowa's "Field of Dreams" week continued Sunday as Dubuque County Post 137 advanced to the American Legion World Series semifinals for the first time in 46 years.
Dubuque County eliminated Midland, Mich., Post 165 in the Stripes Division with a 3-2 victory in the final pool play game for both teams.
"It's awesome," said Post 137's Tucker Nauman, who pitched a four-hitter and also scored the winning run in Sunday's game. "It's been a fantastic week of baseball for Iowa."
Dubuque County opened its 2021 ALWS appearance Thursday on the same day the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees in a Major League Baseball "Field of Dreams" game played in a stadium wedged into a cornfield in the Dubuque County town of Dyersville, Iowa. The game was played in honor of the 1989 movie.
Post 137 actually lost its ALWS opener on Thursday, then beat defending ALWS champion Idaho Falls, Idaho, 11-2 on Saturday and Midland on Sunday to advance to Monday's semifinals. Monday's winners advance to Tuesday's ALWS title game.
"This has been an amazing group," Dubuque County coach Ronnie Kramer said. "Just think with one more win we could be in the finals of the World Series. That's pretty incredible."
Dubuque County (15-1) has made the farthest ALWS advance for a team from Iowa since a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, team in 1975 with future major leaguer Mike Boddicker advanced to the championship game. Cedar Rapids also made the ALWS title game in 1971. Iowa has never had an ALWS champion.
Since the 1975 title game appearance, Iowa had won two ALWS games, in 1976 and 2018.
Advancing to Monday's semifinals involved taking a 2-0 lead, surviving a Midland rally that tied the score at 2 and later throwing out a potential lead run at the bottom of the sixth inning before scoring the game-winner in the top of the seventh.
Nauman made his first plate appearance as a designated hitter to lead off the winning rally.
He drew a walk, advanced to second on Raymond Schlosser's sacrifice bunt and scored on Landon Stoll's two-out RBI single.
The rally came after Dubuque County right fielder Michael Garrett's throw home was cut off by first baseman Sawyer Nauman, who fired to catcher Schlosser to cut down a potential lead run for Midland to end the sixth inning.
"That was big momentum," Kramer said. "If we don't get that play, we probably lose that game."
The rest was up to Tucker Nauman, who retired three of the four batters he faced in the seventh inning to finish his four-hitter with one strikeout in 87 pitches.
"He's been a warrior for us all year," Kramer said of Tucker Nauman. "In a big game like that, it was all him."
Said Tucker Nauman of his effort: "It felt good. I knew it was going to be a grind. I just had to work and compete as best as I could."
Cole Smith's two hits led Dubuque County's five-hit offense, which got RBIs from Jake Brosius, Stoll and Sawyer Nauman.
Midland, whose season ended at 34-5, got hits from Al Money, Avain Rivera, Alex Warner and Brandon Laverty and a complete-game five-hitter from hard-luck loser Danny Witbeck.