Undefeated RSM baseball rolls past Burlington Notre Dame
DES MOINES — After seeing the better seeds in each of the first three quarterfinal matchups in Class 1A go down, No. 2-seeded Remsen St. Mary’s didn’t want the same thing to befall them. The Hawks took care of business in their game as the undefeated Hawks won 11-1 in five innings over Burlington Notre Dame on Saturday, July 25.
RSM Head Coach Dean Harpenau said this year’s 1A field is one of the deepest from top to bottom that he’s seen at the state tournament and attributed that to seeing some upsets in the seeding.
“It didn’t really worry me, but it didn’t shock me either,” Coach Harpenau said. “This is one of the best fields in 1A in forever. With a 154-13 combined record, we expected it to be a dogfight.”
An early run for the Nikes in the first inning put the notice on that the top seeds could still all go down. Jeron Conner and Nicholas Skerik led off the game with back-to-back singles for the Nikes. A sac bunt moved the runners over and a ball that bounded to the backstop allowed the run to score. The Nikes showed squeeze, but the Hawks were ready and after failing to get the bunt down, catcher Skyler Waldschmitt threw down to third to catch the runner off base.
Winning pitcher Blaine Harpenau walked the first two batters of the second inning before a popped up bunt and a double play got the Hawks out of the inning. The next frame the Nikes got the first two runners on again, this time via walk and single, before Harpenau picked off the lead runner at second and then buckled down with a strikeout and groundout to end the third. Harpenau himself said it was far from his best performance.
“It took me awhile to get my command,” he said. “I think I walked more guys than I ever have before, but my teammates, they played awesome. They came out and they picked me up right away. They got one right away, but we came back, we got two and we just kept on adding on. I think that was big for us. A lot of times we just get complacent after we score a few, but we kept on pounding on and kept on getting the lead up. It was a great win for us.”
Harpenau entered the game walking just eight batters in nearly 44 innings, but issued five free passes to the Nikes in his five inning complete game win. His strikeout rate was also down as he averaged a strikeout an inning, behind his season rate of about two strikeouts per frame he had put up in starting the season with a 7-0 mark.
Although it wasn’t his best outing, it didn’t matter too much as the RSM offense, aided by five errors in the field by the Nikes, provided plenty of runs for their starter to work with.
“Our defense was amazing today, no errors,” Blaine Harpenau said. “That makes a huge difference in a ballgame and they came up big for us and we got the win.”
A Harpenau walk and a hit by pitch for Jaxon Bunkers put the runners aboard which would give the Hawks the lead by the end of the first as a pair of errors extended what should have been a shutout inning for Notre Dame starter Mitchell Brent.
Harpenau came through with a bases loaded single which scored two in the second inning.
The team added three more in the third as Xavier Galles doubled to left and Jeremy Koenck was hit by a pitch. Brady Homan singled to right with one run scoring on an error and the remaining runners ending at second and third. A Carter Schorg fielder’s choice brought home the next run with an error on the same play bringing the score to 7-1.
RSM went down in order in the fourth before getting the offense going again in the fifth to end the game early. Just like the third, Galles led off the inning with a double. Galles said he was seeing the ball well as he finished with the two doubles and ended as the only player on the team with multiple hits.
“Both the doubles came right down the middle, so if you’re going to pitch it there, might as well take ‘er for a ride,” Galles said.
Walks to Homan and Carter Schorg filled the bases and, after Skerik came on in relief to pitch, Levi Waldschmitt cleared the bases with a triple. Two more walks reloaded the bags and the game ended with Skyler Waldschmitt standing at the plate watching his younger brother score from third on a wild pitch. Skyler said that the game-ending run scoring on a wild pitch made his job easy.
“It made it easy for me, so that was good,” he said. “I just let my brother Levi come in. I love seeing him succeed like that. He came up big to get us to 10 runs there, got a triple out of it, so yeah, that was huge.”
Burlington Notre Dame finishes the season with a 14-3 record as they complete the season at the state tournament for the first time since 2002.
This is the second time the two teams have met at the state tournament with the other being in the 1983 Class 2A tournament. RSM knocked off the defending state champs that year by an 8-2 score en route to the first of their three consecutive state titles. That 1983 meeting may be most remembered for having the first of what are now just two triple plays in a state tournament game, an 8-2-5 chain of events in which RSM escaped a bases loaded situation when Jeff Schorg caught a fly ball in center, threw home to catcher Al Harpenau to get the runner trying to tag and score and who then threw to third baseman Mark Harpenau to get that runner trying to advance.
Remsen St. Mary’s (20-0) advances to play Mason City Newman Catholic (18-5) in Thursday’s (July 30) semifinal round. The sixth-seeded Knights came back from a 5-2 deficit to beat Council Bluffs St. Albert 6-5 in Saturday’s (July 25) other quarterfinal game. Newman will be playing in their 13th consecutive state semifinals. The last time the team made state and didn’t advance to the semifinals was in 2006 when Gehlen Catholic beat them 3-2 in a 1-vs-8 seed upset.
The Knights are also the three-time defending champions. The last team to beat them at state? None other than RSM who topped them 5-3 in the 2016 semifinals en route to a state title.
“There’s a lot of tradition with us,” Coach Harpenau said. “I think we may be the last team to beat them so I’m sure their coach is telling them that and obviously we have to come play well, we have to put the ball in play, we have to be on on the mound. We can’t give them free passes or errors. It’s going to come to who makes the first mistake. Whoever makes the first mistake, they’re probably not going on.”
Newman did win the last meeting, 2-0 in the 2017 semifinals, but RSM leads in the all-time series at state 2-1. Along with the 2016 win for the Hawks, RSM won 9-8 in the 2010 semifinals.
|Burlington Notre Dame||1 0 0 0 0||1|
|Remsen St. Mary’s||2 2 3 0 4||11|
RSM: Hits- 5; Walks- 7; 2B- X. Galles 2; 3B- L. Waldschmitt; HR- None; RBI- L. Waldschmitt 3, Harpenau 2, C. Schorg 1. Pitching: Blaine Harpenau (W)- 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 5 Ks.