Edgewood-Colesburg falls short in bid for state tournament victory

Loss doesn't detract from successful season

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DES MOINES — They returned home with their heads held high and minds filled with good memories.

An early exit from the state tournament couldn’t put a damper on Edgewood-Colesburg’s success this season.

The Vikings’ first trip to the Class 1A state baseball tournament ended with a 3-2 quarterfinal loss to second-seeded West Sioux Saturday night at Principal Park.

“They wanted to win their last game,” Edgewood-Colesburg Coach Aaron Hamann said. “They came up a little short down here at state, but this is where they wanted to get.

“They wanted to prove they could get here. Bring these two communities down to the state tournament and make some noise down here if we could.”

Not only did the Vikings reach uncharted territory as a consolidated school — Colesburg made one trip solo, winning the 1952 state title — and record their first winning record since 2011, the seniors had more wins this season than the previous three years combined.

The seventh-seeded Vikings (21-13) had a healthy perspective after the game.

“It’s been great,” senior Mike Jones said. “We made school history. It was a great way to leave my senior year.”

Edgewood-Colesburg struggled early, falling behind and flailing at West Sioux starter Porter Hummel, who struck out three in each of the first two innings and 13 total.

“We went to the idea of just throw strikes,” West Sioux Coach Brian Engleman said about Porter, who improved to 11-0. “Don’t put anybody on base so we can win this game and he did his job. He did a great job.”

Jones was just as effective, matching Humnmel’s complete game. He limited the Falcons to four hits and two earned runs. He kept the Vikings in the game, getting help from his fielders. Shortstop Seth Hoeger ended the bottom of the sixth with an unassisted double play, keeping the score at 3-2 going into their final at-bat.

“I felt pretty good and confident when I was on the mound,” Jones said. “I had a solid defense behind me. We just let a few hits by and that’s about it.”

Jones played a key role in Edgewood-Colesburg’s postseason run that included wins over eighth-ranked Jesup and No. 5 Alburnett. He pitched the final 24 postseason innings for the Vikings. Jones, who will play at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, finished 7-3 this season.

“He’s been a bulldog out there for us, throwing the ball,” Hamann said. “I don’t think anybody else would have taken the ball out of his hands.

“He’s wanted to be out there (all year). He’s a tough kid.”

He admitted he began to tire late in the game and was slower than his three previous appearances. He thrives on the mound and closed with two scoreless innings.

“I love being out there,” Jones said. “High pressure situations make me feel the best out on the mound.”

The Falcons (26-2) produced a run in the first, receiving a leadoff single from Kezden Blankenship, who scored on Justin Negaard’s single.

West Sioux increased its lead to 3-0 with two in the fourth. Hummel started the inning with a triple off the right-field wall. Tucker Vanderfeen chased him home with a sacrifice fly. Negaard, who walked, scored on a controversial error call that could have been scored a hit for Chase Koopmans.

The Vikings tried to chip away at the deficit. They have faced similar situations in the past and went to work.

“That isn’t new to us and I told them that,” Hamann said. “I said this is where we are comfortable. We’re OK playing from behind. We were right where we wanted to be the last couple innings with the right batters and a situation to score that last run.”

Edgewood-Colesburg got on the board in the fifth. Hoeger singled with one out, advanced when a Jones grounder was booted and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-1.

Carter Aulwes helped close the gap to one run, reaching on an error and scoring on a misplayed grounder from Kolton Moser.

The Vikings began to put the ball in play after the second inning.

“We adjusted and batted the ball around,” Hoeger said. “We were doing our job.

“Nothing or nobody you can blame.”

Edgewood-Colesburg had plenty of chances, stranding eight runners. The Vikings threatened to have a bigger inning in the sixth, putting the first two batters on with none out. Hummel started a 1-6-3 double play that limited the damage.

“I think the double play was the big play of the game,” Engleman said. “I think the double play was huge, getting us out of that inning. We gave them one anyway, but it could have been worse.”

Jones reached with one out in the seventh with the Nos. 3 and 4 batters in the lineup at the plate, but both popped up to end the game.

“We never had that one breakthrough hit,” Hamann said. “We didn’t have that one big inning.

“We kept chipping away, which is what we do, but we never had that one break-it-open kind of inning. I think that was the difference in the ballgame.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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