Remsen St. Mary’s baseball takes down Kingsley-Pierson to reach 1A title game
CARROLL — The Remsen St. Mary’s baseball program has made the state tournament for seven years in a row, but since winning the championship in 2016, the Hawks hadn’t been able to get past the semifinal round. That changed on Wednesday as the top-seeded team in the Class 1A field beat Plymouth County foe Kingsley-Pierson for the third time this season, doing so by a 10-0 score in five innings at Merchants Park.
“They knew the task at hand,” RSM Head Coach Dean Harpenau said. “If I heard one, I heard 10 times, it’s hard to beat someone three times and we just said, ‘Hey, let’s just play Remsen St. Mary’s baseball.’”
A lack of execution in all phases of the game was what K-P Head Coach Taylor Doeschot said cost his fifth-seeded team in the game.
“Failure to execute was today’s difference,” Doeschot said. “We did not execute offensively, defensively or on the mound. It started with some pitching lack of execution and they made us pay. This isn’t a team you can not execute on. They’ll hurt you and they did right from the get-go.”
Fast start for Hawks
RSM began the semifinal game just like they did in the quarterfinal round contest. Carter Schorg led off with a triple as he found the gap in right-center field. Jaxon Bunkers then drove him home with a base hit to right field.
“Let’s just hope we can do the same thing Friday,” Bunkers said. “It’s awesome having him get me going. He hypes me up and then that just makes me want to go knock him in right away.”
K-P starting pitcher Boston Doeschot then walked and hit a batter to load the bases before Alex Schroeder drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly to right field. An error by shortstop Jackson Howe allowed the third run of the inning to score.
The Hawks added two more runs in the second inning. Schorg and Bunkers sparked the rally in the frame with back-to-back singles which led to the Panthers switching pitchers. Conner Beelner took over and gave up RBI base hits to Cael Ortmann and Alex Schroeder although the runs were charged to Doeschot who finished with four earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings.
Missed opportunities for Panthers
Kingsley-Pierson had a couple good opportunities to put runs on the board in the game, but came up short of getting a clutch hit to bring anyone home.
The Panthers had a chance in the second as Doeschot led off the inning with a single. Eventually, the team got runners on first and third with two outs as Beau Bubke reached on a walk. The inning came to an end on a full count to Emerson Pratt as Bunkers got Bubke caught between first and second leaving early on the full count with the Hawks eventually recording the final out on the lead runner who also was caught between bases.
The Panthers put together a two-out rally in the fourth to load the bases as Howe drew a walk, Brandon Kron got a base hit up the middle and Bubke reached on a free pass. Pratt, who didn’t get to finish his at-bat in the second, did get another chance in the fourth with the bases full, but his fly ball was tracked down in center field by Brenden Fisch to end the threat.
“Who knows what could have happened in that first and third situation,” Doeschot said. “We gave them an easy out on the basepaths. It was just a mental mistake. We had numerous mental mistakes today and it’s hard to get things going when you’re constantly putting yourself behind the eight-ball.”
Hawks pull away for early win
RSM went down in order against Beelner in the third, but the Hawks got back on the scoreboard in the fourth. The top two in the order again came through for the Hawks. Schorg led off the frame with a walk and he scored on an RBI double from Bunkers. It was the third run scored by Schorg in the game while Bunkers picked up his third hit of the contest and fifth of the state tournament.
Beelner loaded the bases with a hit batter and a walk before Damon Schmid came on to put out the fire. Schmid worked out of the jam with no more runs scoring in the inning on a fielder’s choice force out at home followed by a pair of strikeouts.
Bunkers sent the Panthers down in order in the top of the fifth, his first 1-2-3 inning, as he finished the shutout win with three hits and three walks given up, but no runs allowed while striking out two. Bunkers said he was able to glean information from the team’s previous two wins over the Panthers to help him on the mound.
“Played shortstop the whole game against them one time and saw their tendencies that whole game and then the other game we played I caught five innings and saw where they were at at the plate and I finished pitching that game, so that helped a lot,” Bunkers said.
While Schmid was able to put out the fire in the fourth, another ignited against him in the fifth. Singles for Landon Waldschmitt and Fisch along with a walk to Bunkers loaded the bases. Cael Ortmann then came through with a bases-clearing triple to cap off a 2-for-2 game with 4 RBI.
“Our coaches are telling us where the pitches are going to be and we’re just hitting it,” Ortmann said. “We’re finding gaps, we’re being confident. We’re just coming out with energy and it’s working.”
Ortmann then scored the game-ending run, beating the throw home, as Hunter Pick put a ball in play. The run gave the Hawks the 10-run margin to secure the run-rule victory in five innings.
Panthers say goodbye to seniors, look to future
Kingsley-Pierson finishes the season with a 26-5 record. Three of their losses came against the Hawks as they also lost games by scores of 7-5 and 6-2 in a pair of regular season weekend tournaments. The team’s other two losses were against two other teams which were spending the final week of the season at Merchants Park in the Class 2A state tournament, Kuemper Catholic and Estherville-Lincoln Central.
The Panthers will say farewell to seniors Damon Schmid, Jackson Howe, Brandon Kron and Malakie Christophersen. Doeschot said those players have contributed a lot to the team’s success over the last few years.
“We’ve got a fantastic senior group,” Doeschot said. “Those guys are all great ballplayers. It’s disappointing here now and it hurts right after the game, but I think this group is going to look back with some time and think ‘I had a great high school baseball career.’ Two state appearances, two state semifinal appearances. This group has worked hard. They’re great leaders. I’m definitely going to miss them. I’m proud of them and I hope they look back and can smile upon their baseball career here at Kingsley.”
The program has finished with five or fewer losses in each of the last four years. Doeschot said the players returning next year will want to continue the recent string of success.
“We’re going to bring back five starters, we’re going to bring back all of our pitching,” Doeschot said. “If our pitchers can keep developing, gain a little velocity, just get a little more command with their off-speed, I think we should be a really tough team down the line. We have young guys right now that are ready to fill in. They’re going to work hard and it’s a tradition. It’s a culture. These guys are bought in so we fully intend to stay at the level we’re at.”
RSM returns to title game
RSM played in the semifinal round in four of the last five seasons since their state championship, but had lost all four of those games. In 2017, the Hawks lost 2-0 to Mason City Newman Catholic. In 2018, the Hawks fell 4-3 to Alburnett. In each of the last two seasons, the heartbreak came in extra innings with a 2-0 loss in nine innings to Newman in 2020 and then a 5-3 loss in nine innings to Kee last season.
“Last year, that was a tough loss for us,” Harpenau said. “Getting off that bus in Remsen, those kids walking up to me and saying ‘Coach, we’re going to get it done for you next year,’ and they did. They got it done. That means a lot to me.”
The Hawks will look for their first state title since when they beat War Eagle Conference foe West Sioux by an 8-5 score in the 2016 title game. RSM is seeking their fifth overall summer state championship.
The team will take a 35-0 record into the title game as they look to become the first undefeated state champion since Twin Cedars did so in Class 1A in 2014.
Ortmann said the team is extremely motivated to go get that one final win.
“Everyone just says that we make it to state and then we stop, we don’t finish it off,” Ortmann said. “They’re right. We haven’t done that in a while, but we’re here to prove them wrong.”
RSM will face No. 3 seed New London (30-1) in the 1A championship at noon, Friday.
New London blasted second-seeded Mason City Newman Catholic by a 16-1 score in four innings in the second semifinal on Wednesday. The Tigers had made just two previous state tournament appearances, last year and 2006, and lost in the quarterfinal round those times. New London beat CAM, Anita by a 12-3 score in Monday’s quarterfinal before handing the eight-time champions from Newman their largest ever defeat at the state tournament.