Pitching, good defense and timely hitting are three things the Dyersville Whitehawks showcase every time they step onto the diamond. Those three strengths were in full display as they outlasted Key West, 6-3, in 10 innings to win the championship game of the 69th annual Dyersville Semi-Pro Baseball Tournament Aug. 3.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of teams and every year we have a good team, but this year there was something different with this group. We have a solid core of guys here every game and they can play multiple spots, but we finally got them in the spots that they need to be to win these types of games. It’s just a great feeling,” said Matt Ungs, player/manager of the Whitehawks. “Every year we go into this wanting to win our own tournament. I’ve been a member of this team for 20 years and the last time we won this tournament was 11 years ago. So yes, this one does mean a lot.”
Connor McDermott provided a top-level pitching performance for the Whitehawks in the title game as he went the full 10 innings to get the team’s biggest win of the year. McDermott handled the Ramblers’ bats as he only gave up three runs, two of them earned, on four hits and struck out six.
Austin Savary, who was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, delivered the tournament winning three-run bomb in the top of the 10th inning for the Whitehawks. T.J. Deardorff started the rally with a one-out single up the middle. Michael Goerdt followed with a single and that set the stage for Savary who blasted a 1-0 pitch over the right-center field fence.
“He had been throwing me a lot of off-speed stuff early in the count, so I just went up there trying to keep it simple,” said Savary about his game-winning at-bat. “I honestly didn’t think it was gone, but luckily it was able to get out of here.”
“We knew we weren’t going to have that big inning against a team like Key West. We’ve faced Nick Wolfkamp time and time again for many years and we know what he’s going to do up there,” said Ungs. “Luckily we had T.J. and Austin who were on it all night which lifted us and picked us up in big spots.”
Deardorff went 4-for-5 on the night and found himself in the mix most of the time when the Whitehawks scored runs. It was his RBI double in the top of the first inning that drove in Ian Ross to give the Whitehawks a 1-0 lead. Savary scored the team’s second run on a sacrifice fly by Cole Klostermann in the fourth to make it 2-0.
After Key West scored a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead in half, 2-1, Deardorff ripped a double that looked to tie the game, but as Ross approached third base he slowed down because of a leg injury and was tagged out without getting anywhere close to home plate.
Deardorff roped a ground-rule double to right field to lead off the eighth inning, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Goerdt and scored on Savary’s RBI single to put the Whitehawks up 3-2.
The host team was unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. McDermott surrendered a one-out double to Logan Kelleher. Anthony Razo laced a line drive that Joel Vaske handled easily in left field, but Vaske struggled to make the play on a towering pop up by Dan Spain that allowed Kelleher to touch home plate and tie the game at 3-3.
After both teams went down in order in the ninth, Deardorff’s single set the table for Savary in the 10th.
“We just stayed with our approach and doing the things that got us here. We just kept swinging the bats and making plays on defense,” said Savary about the Whitehawks ability to battle back in close games. “When they responded we were able to go up there and respond back. It’s something we’ve been talking about all year. We kept fighting.”
“I was just looking for pitches over the plate, something I could drive or take up the middle. He just left a couple of them in the zone that I was able to hit,” said Deardorff. “We knew that we would have to play team ball to get the win and that’s just what we did.”
The Whitehawks earned their place in the championship game by beating Pleasant Grove, 8-5, in round one and were 11-2 winners over Zwingle in round two. They then blanked Epworth 8-0 in the semifinal game.
Key West pounded Cascade, 14-4, in the first round and squeaked past Farley, 2-0, in round two. In their semifinal game, they edged out Peosta, 3-1.
In the consolation, Max Steffen scored the game-winning run on a walk-off RBI single by Kyle Lehmann that gave Peosta a 9-8 win over Epworth in the bottom of the eighth inning take third place in the tournament.