DES MOINES, Iowa – During the state tournament, it doesn’t matter how many innings a game takes a win is a win.
The Newman Catholic Knights were able to survive and advance in a nine-inning shutout of Remsen St. Mary’s on Thursday at Principal Park.
The Hawks were in scoring position early when Jaxon Bunkers struck out on a bunt attempt. The runner at third was committed to stealing home where he clashed with Max Burt for the out.
Sam Kratz had a phenomenal outing on the mound. The senior threw allowed only four hits in seven innings worth of work, striking out 12 batters.
“It’s everything, I mean it’s exactly what I wanted. A shutout against a great team and to send us to the championship. It’s everything,” Kratz said.
The top of the ninth marked when the Knights were able to start moving runners around the bases. Nash Holmgaard sent a ball to right-center to drive in Newman’s first run of the game. The Knights would plate one more in the ninth to have a 2-0 advantage heading to the bottom of the frame.
Holmgaard says the young, but seasoned Knights know they can count on one another in tough situations to make big plays.
“It’s a great thing when we all have confidence in each other,” he said. “We all know we can do the job. It’s great when you can come back with seven new starters and get the job done.”
Future Hawkeye, Doug Taylor, would relieve Kratz once he reached his pitch limit. Taylor was recorded as the winning pitcher with the winning runs happening during his 1.2 innings of work. The game ended on a Taylor strikeout, giving the No. 6 Knights a 2-0 victory over the No. 2 Hawks.
“It’s what everyone plays for,” Burt said. “There’s so many high school teams that aren’t lucky enough to get to the state tournament and I think sometimes people think ‘okay, Newman Catholic back in the state championship again’ but it’s the stuff we do behind the scenes, the hard work that we put in. That’s what gets us back here every year.”
Newman Catholic (19-5) will face Don Bosco (19-1) in the Class 1A state championship in Des Moines on Saturday at 10:30 AM.
“These guys, no one gave them any chance in the world to get to this spot, coach Alex Bohl said. “They just bought in later in the season and they’re doing whatever they need to do and I’m just so happy that they keep battling on every single pitch – keep competing. This is all for them.”