Kingsley-Pierson beats Tri-Center to make state baseball tourney
DENISON — After a one year hiatus, the Kingsley-Pierson baseball team is headed back to state as they beat Tri-Center by a 10-1 score in Tuesday’s Class 1A substate final.
The team they beat was the same team which kept the Panthers watching the state tournament from home last year in what was a 5-0 Tri-Center win in the 2021 substate game.
Senior Damon Schmid said that loss helped motivate the team in this year’s rematch.
“Losing to this team last year at substate really put a fire behind us and I think we came out ready to go tonight and really showed that,” Schmid said.
Taylor Doeschot, head coach of the No. 10 ranked Panthers, said it’s nice to get back to the state tournament.
“We were close last year and fell short,” Coach Doeschot said. “I think the boys took this one a little more just professional, a little more personal, like they wanted to get there again. They knew last year they had a good enough team to do it and we fell short so this year was all about staying hungry and getting back there. A great group of hardworking young men and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
One swing, one run
Schmid stepped up to the plate to lead off the K-P batting order in the bottom of the first and was ready to go. He swung at the first pitch and sent it down the left-field line and over the fence for the home run.
“I was just ready and saw the pitch I liked and got a good swing on it,” Schmid said. “Right when I hit it I knew it was a solid, hard hit, but I didn’t know it was going to go over so I was running pretty hard. I got to second and didn’t see anything foul or fair and then I saw him twirl his hand and was like, ‘Wow, wasn’t really expecting that,’ but it’s a great feeling to start off a game.”
The home run was the third of the season for Schmid as he has half of the team’s six home runs.
Schmid said the home run broke the ice and helped him and the rest of the team at the plate the rest of the game.
“The rest of my plate appearances, I didn’t have the best second appearance, but after that I locked it in and had a really good feeling at the plate. I was seeing the ball well,” Schmid said. “I think that set the tone for the rest of my teammates. We all came out with a lot of energy after that and put up three runs the first inning so that was a big thing for us to do.”
Schmid finished 2-for-3 with a single along with his home run. He also walked twice and was hit by a pitch.
The home run sparked a rally which saw the team score twice more in the frame with two outs. Jackson Howe knocked in a run with a single to right field. The other run came as Beau Bubke drew a bases-loaded walk. The inning came to a close as Howe was thrown out trying to steal home as he tried to catch the Trojans sleeping on a throw back to the pitcher.
Doeschot deals on the mound
Boston Doeschot sent the Trojans down in order with two strikeouts and a pop up which he caught himself in the top of the first inning. He said it was nice to come out for the second inning with a three run lead.
“That was nice because it just helps me go into cruise mode,” Doeschot said.
Doeschot added two more strikeouts in the second inning and then struck out the side in the third frame, part of his nine strikeouts in the contest.
“I just felt really good warming up and I just had to get those first few guys and then I was rolling after that,” Doeschot said.
Jaxon Johnson got the first hit of the game for the Trojans to lead off the fourth inning, but they were unable to do anything with it.
A walk, error and ball which made it to the backstop led to the Trojans scoring their only run of the game in the fifth inning near the end of Doeschot’s stint on the mound. He ended up going 4 2/3 innings.
“I thought he did a great job,” Coach Doeschot said. “Spotless the first three innings. He had command of his fastball, had his off-speed working. That’s a good-hitting team over there and you have to keep them off-balance and he was able to do that.”
Offense adds to lead
The Panthers added runs in the middle innings. The team scored one run in the third with a short two-out rally. Howe reached on an error and stole second base. He was then able to score on a single up the middle off the bat of Bubke.
Schmid and Conner Beelner started off the fourth inning with back-to-back singles. Schmid was subsequently able to score on a ground out off the bat of Neumann.
After the Trojans scored their only run in the fifth, the Panthers answered for five runs in the bottom of the inning. The Trojans struggled to find the strike zone in the inning as the team sent out three different pitchers in the frame. Those pitchers combined for five walks in the inning along with a hit batter and some wild pitches. The first run scored on a wild pitch and the next scored on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to Beelner. It was one of three pitches which hit him in the game.
A bases-loaded walk to Neumann plated another run. Doeschot then capped off the scoring with a 2 RBI single to make it 10-1.
Panthers finish off the win
The Panthers had a chance to finish off the game early with one more run in the fifth, but were unable to do so. The team had another chance to end it in the sixth. Emerson Pratt hit a double, Schmid drew a walk and Beelner was plunked by a pitch for the third time to load the bases with one out in the sixth, but the Trojans were able to stave off an early end to the game by getting Neumann to hit into a double play.
Coach Doeschot said the main disappointment from the win was leaving baserunners aboard.
“I think we had 13 left on base tonight which is a little bit out of character for us,” Coach Doeschot said. “A couple timely hits and this game may have been over in the fifth or sixth, but it’s something to work on.”
On the mound, Beelner picked up pretty much where Doeschot left off in his time on the hill.
Beelner got the final out of the fifth inning via strikeout to end the threat in that frame. After hitting a batter to lead off the sixth, Beelner sent the next three Trojans down in order. He then finished off the game facing four batters in the seventh. He struck out the first two batters of the inning before giving up a hit-by-pitch. The Panthers then recorded the final out on a pop up to shallow left-center field.
Coach Doeschot said it was a good relief appearance for Beelner who didn’t allow a hit and struck out four in 2 1/3 innings.
“Connor’s been a great reliever for us all year,” Coach Doeschot said. “He comes in, throws hard, throws strikes and goes right at them.”
A different state venue
When Kingsley-Pierson made the state tournament two years ago, it was still being held in Des Moines. Coach Doeschot said the team will now get to experience a different state venue.
“Des Moines is impossible to beat. That stadium, that whole area is unbelievable,” Coach Doeschot said. “Carroll does a great job though and we’re really looking forward to getting down there. It’s a beautiful field.”
It won’t be the first time the Panthers played at Merchants Park in Carroll. The school’s first three state tournament appearances in 1996, 1998 and 2002 were held there.
Kingsley-Pierson (26-4) secured the No. 5 seed in the 1A tournament. The Panthers will face No. 4 seed North Linn (31-2) in the first quarterfinal round game on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
“We have a great team this year, we’re ready to go, and we want to go down and compete and do our best down there and hopefully make a run at a state title,” Schmid said.