DES MOINES - The Remsen St. Mary's Hawks put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to come all the way back to defeat the top-seeded Mason City Newman Catholic Knights, 9-8, Thursday afternoon in a Class 1A semifinal at the State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The Knights took an early 7-1 lead after the top of the third, but St. Mary's showed true grit and heart to win the ball game. Hawks' starting pitcher Tanner Kockler went the distance, threw an amazing 185 pitches to push his record on the year to a perfect 11-0.
Defending 1A state champ Newman got out of the gates quickly, scoring two runs in the second and five runs in the third, jumping out quickly to a 7-1 lead. Newman looked prime to cruise into the title game, but the Hawks were not going to give up.
After a relatively easy first two innings of work, Newman pitcher Blake Louscher ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third. After his team put up a five-spot in the top of the inning, the first St. Mary's batter reached on an error and Louscher walked the next batter. That opened the gates for a four-run inning for the Hawks, closing the gap to 7-5 in favor of the Knights.
The game remained 7-5 until the top of the sixth inning when Newman was able to put another run on the board. Louscher was hit by a pitch with one out, followed by a single by Mike Bohl. Louscher scored during the next at bat as Carter Kruckenberg reached on an error, making the score 8-5.
Newman relief pitcher Hunter Hill was able to retire the first batter of the bottom of the sixth inning. Beau Pick then drew a one-out walk which began a streak of six consecutive batters to reach base for the Hawks, highlighted by Matt Arends' line drive single to left center field, scoring the go-ahead run, and giving St. Mary's its first lead of the ball game.
Kockler, who battled valiantly all afternoon for the Hawks, walked Newman batter Drew Verstegen to begin the top of the seventh inning. Verstegen was sacrificed to second and Kockler got the next batter to fly out to center field. Kockler then hit Louscher for the second time in as many innings, but Kockler beared down and got Mike Bohl to fly out to right field to end the game.
Drama certainly was not absent in the game. Kockler was a warrior on the hill as he tossed seven innings, giving up nine hits, eight runs (six earned), 10 walks, while striking out eight, throwing an unbelievable 185 pitches on the afternoon.
Second-ranked Newman finishes the season with a 35-3 record. Their previous losses were to 4A teams Cedar Falls and Mason City. Remsen St. Mary's moves to 26-8 on the season and advances to play Martensdale-St. Marys (42-0) for the Class 1A championship at noon on Saturday.