For the seniors, it’s a year overdue, their trip to the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament. But it’s happening for the Beckman Catholic baseball team, after they stymied a 20-6 Jesup squad at Mount Mercy Field in Cedar Rapids, July 12, 8-1.
With Nick Schmidt on the mound for the whole game and a four-hit shutout (basically), the Beckman bats ran wild, taking 12 hits from Jesup starter Jack Miller and reliever Cole Bucknell.
That basically? In the bottom of the second, the J-Hawks had a base runner, Parker McHone, on with two outs. When he tried to steal third on Cole Schissel’s single to center, Blazer Luke Schieltz fired the ball in to stop him. The throw went long and hit one of the photographers standing near the dugout, allowing McHone to take home and score on a dead ball-interference decision, giving a 1-0 lead to the J-Hawks.
It didn’t last long. The third opened with Schieltz doubling to center and scoring on Nate Offerman’s single-stretched-to-a double-then triple. Offermann came in a couple batters later when Logan Burchard singled and the Blazers led 2-1 and never looked back.
They added four runs in the next inning, after Schmidt fanned the last two J-Hawks in the top of the frame. Matthew Florence led off and scored when Eli Kluesner laced a triple to deep center. Schieltz again doubled to deep center to plate Kluesner and scored on Offerman’s base hit. Offerman came in on Luke Sigwarth’s sacrifice fly. It was 6-1.
A new pitcher for the J-Hawks, Bucknell, came in to start the fifth, but gave up a single to Burchard. Lane Kramer and Florence both made outs but Kluesner hit again, this time a single to left. Both he and Burchard were left standing when Schieltz whiffed on a full count.
Schmidt shut down the side in three in the bottom of that frame, including an inning-ending double play by himself when Brody Clark-Hurlburt hit back to him and he caught the runner at first off the bag.
The Blazers hit again in the sixth. Offerman was hit and Sigwarth tripled to plate him, 7-1. Owen Huehnergarth scored Sigwarth with a sacrifice fly, the first of the three straight outs for the Blazers with an 8-1 lead.
Nate Cagley led off the bottom of the sixth with a single but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice. Schmidt coaxed Carson Leinau into a shot to short and fanned the next up, McHone.
In the top of the last, Kramer opened with a fly out to center, Florence singled and stole the next two. But he was left when both Kluesner and Schieltz flew out.
“We weren’t real sure about leaving Nick in,” said coach Fred Martin. “He was right at about a 100 pitches. But he said ‘I want this, give me the ball.’ So we left him in there.”
Schmidt gave up a base hit to the lead off man, but needed just three pitches to fan the next. The third flew out to left and Brevin Dahl hit back to shortstop Offerman, who tossed it to second for the third out and the game.
Schmidt added, “After last year, I knew we needed to get back here (substate) and then to state. I wanted that ball because I knew I could do it. This team is special. This team does its job. And now we’re going to state, it’s awesome.”
Martin said, “Our hitting is just so good right now, all up and down the line-up, whether it’s No. 1 or No. 9. I think as a team we’re right around .350 and we’re always in the game because of that.
“Schmitty is such a warrior. Back in the fourth, we came out to the mound and told him to slow down, calm down. He did and then he went all the way. He threw a great game.
“This team is so good at getting guys on base and then getting them in. They are willing to go the other way on two-strike counts. And they just hit it hard.
“This keeps up and we’ll be a force at state.”
Senior Huehnergarth concurred. “A bunch of us have played together for so long, this is just more special and super awesome. To finally be going to state, we thought this would happen last year, so for it to be now is special.”
When asked about his lack of the “big hit” that he is used to providing, he said, “Sac flies are more important. They score the runner.”
The Blazers are now in the field of eight for the 19th time and it includes rival Cascade, the first time in (unofficially) 40 years that both made the field. Most years, they have to go through each other to qualify. Martin said, “Good for them, they deserve it. My guys are pretty calm about the whole thing (state field) and not nervous. They’ll be ready.”
Offerman was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Florence 2-for-4, Schieltz 2-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI, Sigwarth 1-for-3 (triple) with two RBIs, Kluesner 1-for-3 (triple) one RBI, Burchard 1-for-3 one RBI, Huehnergarth 1-for-4 one RBI, Kramer 1-for-4. Offerman scored three runs, Schieltz two, Sigwarth and Florence one.
Schmidt finished the season with a 6-5 record, 2.43 ERA. He allowed no earned runs on five hits, whiffing six, walking three.