Homan’s walk-off homer sends No. 1 RSM past Gehlen in extras
REMSEN — Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, freshman Collin Homan came through with the game-winning home run as Class 1A No. 1 ranked Remsen St. Mary’s survived a battle with their rivals from Gehlen Catholic. The solo shot over the fence in right center gave the Hawks the 2-1 win in Saturday’s district final game.
“It’s unbelievable,” Homan said. “I went out there just looking for a hit and then it felt good right off the bat. I knew it right when I hit it.”
Homan was all smiles as he rounded the bases and was swarmed at home plate by his teammates who later gave him an ice bath with one of the coolers in the postgame celebration.
RSM Head Coach Dean Harpenau said he had the date of the district final game pinpointed ever since the brackets were released and said it was going to be a great game.
“I put my finger on it and I think I was correct,” Harpenau said. “A great high school baseball game. If this was on ESPN, it would be like an instant classic. We had a great crowd and they were treated to one of the best high school games in the state tonight.”
The outlook wasn’t as great for the Hawks earlier in the game. The team was kept in check by Gehlen pitcher Connor Kraft and faced a 1-0 deficit down to their final three outs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Gehlen scored their run in the top of the sixth. Pinch hitter Carter Kellen came through with a clutch two-out single out to left field to drive in the run against Carter Schorg.
Gehlen Head Coach Kirk Kronaizl said it was a great at-bat for the junior who played in right field but made his first plate appearance for his DH.
“He had a great at-bat. Even if he strikes out or whatever, it was a great at-bat. He saw five, six, seven pitches or whatever,” Kronaizl said. “Just the growth of some of the guys this year is amazing to see. It put a little stress on them finally. They’re the ones that are never in stressful situations because they’re always ahead.”
The Jays switched pitchers in the bottom of the seventh as Kraft was getting near his limit of pitches for the game. Zayne Weiland got the first out of the inning by pop up, but then walked the next two batters. In a rare move, the Jays brought Kraft back in to finish off the few remaining pitches he had left. The Jays intentionally walked the bases loaded to set up a chance for a force out at any base. Then, Cael Ortmann hit a fly ball to center field which was deep enough to bring home Brenden Fisch for the tying run.
Weiland returned to the mound to get the final out of the inning on a ground out which sent the game to extra innings, the second time this season the two teams went to extra frames.
Gehlen was able to get a runner on with one out in the eighth as Ryan Augustine singled to left, but Carter Schorg was able to complete the inning finishing just two pitches below his limit for the day. Schorg finished with 11 strikeouts in eight innings while Kraft struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings.
“It was dude for dude tonight and it was fun to watch,” Kronaizl said. “Connor just threw too many pitches too many times. He was at a lot of full counts. We run into a situation where he runs out of pitches.”
Harpenau agreed that both pitchers were dealing.
“A great mound performance too by Carter Schorg. Both pitchers were dueling tonight. Not a lot of hits tonight,” Harpenau said.
Weiland got the first out of the eighth inning with a fly out to center before Homan ended the game with his third home run of the season.
Gehlen finishes the season with a 21-10 record. The Jays are losing two players to graduation on this year’s team, Dylan Lehmann and Ryan Livermore.
“They just do things right. Even if they’re struggling or having an off week even, they’re still positive kids,” Kronaizl said of the pair. “It’s fun to see that those two kids can do what they’re doing and they’re going to be successful whatever they do. It was really an honor to coach both of those guys.”
Remsen St. Mary’s improved to 32-0 with the win as they advanced to the substate game. Harpenau said he’s proud of his team for finding a way to come back and win.
“I give our guys credit. State tournament teams, that’s what they do. We found a way, we found a way to scratch to tie it and obviously we found a way to win it,” Harpenau said.