Ottumwa state qualifier banner (1).JPG

The Ottumwa Bulldogs celebrate and hold up their 4A state baseball tournament qualifier banner after beating Iowa City High 2-1 on July 21.

OTTUMWA — For Jesus Jaime, it will all come full circle next Thursday.

For Mitch Wood, it will be a something of a preview when the Ottumwa Bulldogs step on the home diamond of the Iowa Hawkeyes next Thursday.

Ottumwa, 30-9 on the season, will enter the program's first state baseball tournament in 15 years seeded eighth out of eight teams. The Bulldogs open with top-ranked, top-seeded Pleasant Valley (34-4) in the first of four 4A state quarterfinal games to be played at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on July 29. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

"We've been talking about this since Little League about how, when we got to high school, we were going to the state tournament," Wood said. "We always knew we were good. We've had some trouble getting there, but I knew this was the squad and this was the year."

For Wood, Thursday's state quarterfinal will be played on the same field he will soon call his home. Starting next season, Wood will be suiting up for Rick Heller and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

"It's kind of like the start of a new beginning," Wood said. "I'm going to play my last high school game there and I'm going to start my college career there."

As for Jaime, his final high school baseball game will be on the same field that he played his first game for the Bulldogs. As an eighth-grader, Jaime made his varsity debut for Ottumwa in a late-season doubleheader against Mason City at Banks Field back in July of 2017.

"I had been on the freshman team throughout that season and got moved up at the end of the year," Jaime recalled. "We definitely have a shot to win a state title. I trust my guys completely. It's time to do this."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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