Emotion. If one were to look for a word to describe the outcome of Tuesday’s Class 1A substate baseball final, that would be the word. Twin Cedars took advantage of strong hitting and some North Mahaska miscues to capture a 5-2 win.
The victory also means a trip to the state baseball tournament beginning Friday evening. Twin Cedars, 35-2, ranked second in the state and seeded fourth in the tournament, will face Martinsdale-St. Mary’s at Principal Park in Des Moines at 8 p.m.
For Twin Cedars, the win caps an emotional season that included the loss of a teammate in an auto accident. North Mahaska’s emotional ride came to an end as the team said good-bye to five seniors, who hoped their season would end in Des Moines.
Before an over-capacity crowd, Twin Cedars opened the game with three hits to take a lead they would not relinquish. They would add two more runs in the second inning to lead 3-0. A walk, double by Corey Harrell and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brent Parker increased the lead to 4-0.
With one out inn the bottom of the fifth inning, North Mahaska (24-9) took advantage of two walks and an error to load the bases with one out. Beau Freeborn ripped a single to right-center to drive in a run and Trent Roose hit a sacrifice for another. Otis Roby struck out a batter to end the rally. Harrell hit a single and a fielding error led to the Sabers’ final run.
“We had a couple plays tonight I think we probably could have handled better,” said North Mahaska coach Kevin Kelderman. “There were some big plays. They didn’t bounce our way and we didn’t make the plays I think we could have.
“That’s high school. We have been fortunate. We have had some things go our way and sometimes they bounce the other way.”
Freeborn’s single was the only hit yielded by the Sabers. Coy Moore worked four innings and struck out six batters while allowing two runs on one hit. He also walked four. Roby entered the game with one out in the fifth and struck out six.
“We had plans to use both, but hoped Coy could go all the way,” said Sabers coach Matt Miller. “Coy did well and Roby was able to pitch the shutout.”
Miller said his team was aware how strong a pitcher Trent Roose was for North Mahaska.
“We knew when he settles in he gets tougher to hit,” said Miller. “We hit the fastball pretty well. Once he got his breaking ball going it took us time to adjust to it.”
Kelderman also praised his hurler.
“Hats off to Trent Roose,” said Kelderman. “He kept battling. He threw pretty well. He gave up more walks, but he gave us a strong outing. He is an all-state pitcher regardless of what anyone says.
“They have a very good team. I am sure they will do well at the state tournament. We had a good season.”
Twin Cedars’ magical season has been made more so with the determination of the team. The team had Principal Park in its sights since last fall. It became more of a goal once teammate Derek Springer succumbed to an auto accident in June. The team and fans embraced their so-called “angel in the outfield.”
“This team set the state tournament as their goal last fall,” said Miller. “Derek was a part of this team. It was great that his brother, Dylan, got in as a pinch runner. It is a great moment for these guys.”
Twin Cedars is making the trip to state for the second time. The Sabers made their first trip in 2003 where they fell to their 2013 opponent Martinsdale-St. Mary’s. The two teams faced each other on June 10 with the Sabers winning 5-4.