DES MOINES, Iowa – Newman Catholic made it look easy.
“The end of our quarterfinal game wasn’t very ideal so we cleared our heads, we flushed it, and moved on to the next game. We tried to put it on them right away, play our game, and try not to get flustered and that worked out today,” said Newman Catholic senior Josh Fitzgerald.
Worked out might be an understatement. Despite a few early jitters, the Knights put on a well-rounded showing in the state semis, defeating Don Bosco 10-0 in 5 innings.
Evan Paulus says it should be no surprise.
“It’s not a surprise that we were a little bit nervous going into the state semifinal game because who isn’t,” Paulus remarked. “But obviously we calmed down, put up 10 runs, and (are) moving on.”
Paulus was once again a force to reckon with on the mound as he only allowed four runners on in a complete game (3 hits, 1 walk). But the Knights’ bats were connecting with everything that came out of the pitcher's hand. Particularly for Josh Fitzgerald, who went 4-for-4 including two triples and three RBIs.
According to a former IHSAA statistician, Fitzgerald has compiled 15 hits in 33 at-bats through 14 career state tournament games thus far, ranking among the best in the state. He says he has just been playing smart baseball.
“You know, I just wanted to find a good pitch that I could drive and hit well,” Fitzgerald said. “The first pitch they threw me was a curveball right down the middle so it was good to recognize that. I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”
The senior class has a chance to win its third consecutive title and fourth in five years. Paulus says that makes it all the more special.
“It means a ton because we get to play our last game as seniors at Principal Park in the state championship game,” said Paulus. “The last couple years the seniors have gotten to experience that and no we get to, too, and it’s really something special for every single one of us.”
“It’s something that we don’t take for granted,” said head coach Alex Bohl. “It’s a group of kids that have bonded for years now and they’re obviously very deserving for the amount of time they’ve put in.”
Newman Catholic will play for the Class 1A title on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 11 Am at Principal Park in Des Moines.