RSM readies for Martensdale-St. Marys in 1A quarterfinals

Thursday, August 1, 2019
Above, the Remsen St. Maryís baseball team celebrates their substate win over Kingsley-Pierson by exchanging high-fives. The Hawks open state tournament play against Martensdale-St. Marys on Saturday. The two teams havenít met since the 2010 Class 1A state championship game which the Blue Devils won 3-0 over the Hawks to cap a perfect season.
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil)

Remsen St. Maryís (26-7) vs. Martensdale-St. Marys (34-6) 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Principal Park

DES MOINES ó For the first time since the 2010 Class 1A state championship, No. 6 seed Remsen St. Maryís and third-seeded Martensdale-St. Marys will take the field against one another in a baseball game for Saturdayís state quarterfinal matchup.

The Blue Devils won that 2010 championship game 3-0 to cap off a perfect 43-0 season, becoming, at the time, one of nine teams to accomplish the feat. They would do it again the next season as the second of three consecutive state titles in a state record stretch of 88 consecutive games without a loss.

The two schools have plenty of tradition with Remsen St. Maryís also winning three consecutive state championships from 1983-85 as this yearís team makes it to state for the fourth consecutive season, surpassing the previous best mark for number of state appearances in a row by the school. The two schools have each won four state championships in summer play with this being the 16th overall summer state appearance for the Blue Devils and 12th overall for the Hawks.

Martensdale-St. Marys has followed up their three consecutive championships with state appearances in every year except 2016, the year the Hawks won their most recent championship. The Blue Devils played in the 2017 title game, falling to Mason City Newman Catholic and were ousted in the semifinals by that same team last year.

The teamís road to state was fairly smooth sailing until the substate game where they edged Council Bluffs St. Albert, the team they beat in last yearís state quarterfinals, by a 4-3 score.

Ace Isaac Gavin threw the win for the Blue Devils in the substate and will be available to throw in Saturdayís game based on pitch counts. Gavin is 11-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 54 innings this season. He has struck out 62 and walked 19 batters this season.

On the other side, Blaine Harpenau will be available after being pulled at 89 pitches from the substate game in what was his shortest outing of the season innings-wise in a game that wasnít decided early by run-rule margins. Harpenau has a 14-0 record this season with Class 1Aís best ERA among pitchers with at least 25 innings thrown. He still leads the state, all classes included, in strikeouts with 154, although his lead has diminished from earlier in the summer as Class 2Aís Jake Hilmer of North Linn currently has 149 Ks. After recording at least 10 strikeouts in each of his first 11 outings, Harpenau has been held to no more than six in each of the last three games.

Martensdale-St. Marys isnít overly prone to strikeouts, averaging 4.65 per game which is right in the middle of the 1A field. Their offense has put up solid numbers with most of those in the middle of the 1A field. However, the team does appear to like to use small-ball tactics a bit more than their counterparts with 42 sacrifices and 152 stolen bases, each most out of the 1A qualifiers.

Cole Cassady sets the table for the team, reaching at a .592 clip with a .413 batting average. His OBP numbers are boosted by a team-leading 22 hit-by-pitches and second-best 26 bases-on-balls for the team this season. Once on base, he is one of the teamís top threats to steal with 29 stolen bases.

Carson Ebert leads the team with a .427 batting average and .583 slugging percentage. A quarter of his 44 hits have gone for extra bases with six doubles and a team-best five triples.

Esa Johanson and Trey Baker lead the power numbers with three and two home runs, respectively. Johanson is the teamís RBI leader with 40 this season. The team also has two other batters, Kasey Carter and Cael Cassady, whose batting averages are just a few points below the .400 mark.

Brooks Trom has filled a utility role most of the season, but has picked up nine of his 12 hits this season in his last eight games. He is also the teamís steals leader with 33 swipes in 36 attempts on the base paths.

RSMís offensive numbers are mostly in the bottom half of the 1A field although the team is one of the best at avoiding strikeouts this season. The offense has been on a hot streak coinciding with their postseason run with run-rule margins of victory against their first three opponents and a seven-run showing against a Kingsley-Pierson team who led Class 1A in fewest runs allowed this season.

Harpenau leads the team with an average right at the .400 mark with Skyler Waldschmitt not far behind with a .391 average. Jeremy Koenck leads the team with a .542 OBP as heís been hit by a team-high 12 pitches. Heís gone 7-for-11 over the last five games as the bottom half of the order has really picked it up late in the season with Brady Homan breaking out for power, Levi Waldschmitt hitting safely in five straight games and Xavier Galles coming through with a team-best 3 RBI in the substate game out of the No. 9 spot in the order.

Should the game come down to relief pitching, the Hawks have a reliable closer in Skyler Waldschmitt who has a 2.00 ERA in 35 innings. Spencer Schorg got tossed up against some of the better competition that Harpenau didnít see this year, so his 5.44 ERA is probably a bit misleading as he and Brayden Ricke (3.86 ERA) remain other pitching options for the Hawks.

The Blue Devils have a bit deeper of a pitching rotation with Johanson, Elbert and Matt Hughes each throwing over 30 innings with sub-3.00 ERAs. Cole Cassady and Trey Baker each have over 20 innings of mostly relief work and could be other options for the team. Bakerís only loss was when he gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning of relief against Woodbury Central in the final weekend of the regular season. The Hawks beat Woodbury Central 10-0 in five innings during their run through the district bracket.

The winner of the game between the Hawks and Blue Devils will be the final piece in the Class 1A puzzle after two quarterfinal games to be played Friday, July 26 and another on Saturday, July 27. The winner advances to Thursdayís (August 1) semifinal game at a time yet to be determined. The winner of this game will face the winner of No. 2 seeded Alburnett and No. 7 seeded South Winneshiek.