Opportunistic Tigers slip past North Tama

TRAER – The last play will be the first that comes to mind.

Redhawk coach Dan Kopriva wants his team to remember the many that came before it.

Taking advantage of a North Tama overthrow to first base, Iowa Valley’s Bennett Goettsch raced all the way home to score the game-winning run in a 7-6, 10-inning Class 1A District 6 semifinal Thursday at J.L. Lister Field.

Goettsch singled to lead off the inning and made his way toward second on Josh Jordan’s bunt before a high throw toward first sprayed into right field allowing Goettsch to come across for the walk-off run.

“It’s a frustrating game but I don’t put the blame on anybody for the one mistake at the end,” Kopriva said. “We made a few mistakes throughout the game. I made a couple mistakes on judgment calls where I thought something was going to happen and it didn’t. … Everyone always remembers the last play but I just want everyone to remember there were several other things that happened where we could have put the game away earlier.”

North Tama (17-12) took a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth on Cameron Hoeg’s RBI double to deep center, Caden Stuart followed with an intentional walk and Tristan Johanningmeier laid down a bunt single but Hoeg was thrown out at the plate.

Iowa Valley (17-7) surrendered its own chance to win in the bottom half when Austin Schlabach doubled in the tying run and moved to third on a throw home but was later caught in a rundown leading too far off of third.

Schlabach gave the Tigers a quick 3-0 lead in the first with a three-run homer and finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, five RBIs and a sac fly.

Cameron Hoeg knotted the game with a three-run double to center and batted 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a pair of doubles to lead North Tama.

Hoeg’s RBI groundout in the fifth gave the Redhawks their first lead of the game though Iowa Valley retaliated with two runs in its next at-bat. Schlabach evened the score with a sac fly to center and Dylan Healy scored on a passed ball to put the Tigers in front 5-4.

North Tama extended the game in the seventh as Cael Kopriva and Kaufman drew walks against Schlabach who was quickly replaced by Austin Carney. The Tigers’ botched double play ball at second on Hulme’s grounder allowed Kopriva to tie it up at 5-all.

Iowa Valley left two runners on in the seventh and both teams stranded a runner in scoring position in the eighth. The Redhawks turned a double play at second before Brody Hulme fanned Andrew Henry for the last out. North Tama left 11 runners on base, while the Tigers stranded eight and both teams had an array of missed opportunities from botched bunts to baserunning gaffes.

“We left a lot of guys on base and we made a lot of mistakes but that happens in high school baseball,” Iowa Valley coach John Bowlin said. “We got lucky. We just kept battling and Gavin Collingwood threw a fantastic game for us. … It was a wild game.”

Collingwood threw the first six frames, allowing four runs on eight hits.

Hulme threw nine innings for North Tama, allowing six runs on 12 hits, while striking out 10, walking two and hitting one. Brandon Kaufman (4-3) threw to the final pair of batters in relief.

“Brody had a great outing, he pitched just two days before and I hate to do that to a pitcher,” Kopriva said of his junior, who threw 49 pitches over five innings against Belle Plaine Tuesday.

“Our intent was to throw him five or six innings and he was cruising through. It’s the first time I probably overpitched a pitcher but he felt really good and did a great job. With Brody on the mound we’re as tough as any team in the state.”

Carney (7-3) earned the win for Iowa Valley, fanning eight batters in four innings while allowing one unearned run on three walks and two hits.

The Tigers advance to the District 6 final to face No. 7 BGM (23-2) Saturday at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn. The Bears beat HLV 9-3 in their semifinal game.

The Redhawks bring back nearly their entire roster next season after a season in which they caught many by surprise.

“Coming into this year we just wanted a .500 season,” Kopriva said. “There were people asking me if we were going to win four or five games and we turned out a 17-12 year. It’s been a very satisfying season for a coach because we finished above and beyond what anyone thought we would.”