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DES MOINES — South Winneshiek has produced a memorable season.
It may have ended a couple games sooner than the Warriors had hoped, but that didn’t put a damper on what they accomplished.
A strong campaign came to a close Monday when fifth-seeded Roland-Story dropped No. 4 South Winneshiek, 4-1, in the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A state baseball quarterfinals at Principal Park.
The Warriors (34-2) still made program history this year, reaching the state tournament for the first time.
“It was a great success for us,” South Winneshiek Coach Ben Obermann said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these juniors and seniors for representing our school.”
Senior Trevor Schweinefus reached the state golf tournament in the spring. He also had parents, who played on state qualifying teams. His dad, Doug, was on a state tournament basketball team, while his mom, Shanna, was a member of South Winn softball team that went to state. He knew this was a special game, despite the outcome.
“It’s a memory that I’ll have forever,” said Schweinefus, who had two hits. “The hurt they feel now fades away.
“There is definitely more good than bad this season. I was real happy with how the season went and how everybody played throughout the course of the season. We just came up a little short in that last game.”
The damage occurred early and was a mix of what Roland-Story did and what South Winneshiek didn’t do. The Warriors committed a pair of errors and were inconsistent on defense, leading to two runs in each of the first two innings.
“Down here, playing a great team like Roland-Story, they will become magnified at this level,” Obermann said. “We haven’t played outstanding defense all year, but we were confident we would make the routine plays.”
In the first, South Winn was unable to finish a double play, bringing Tyler Hovick to the plate with two on and two out. He responded with a double to the right-field wall, scoring Alex Urbanek and starting pitcher Alex Muhlenburg.
The Norsemen added two more the following inning, sandwiching an Urbanek single between doubles from Zach Hovick and Ben Clark.
South Winn remained optimistic. They had erased greater deficits this season, but couldn’t climb out of the hole.
“We couldn’t scratch enough runs across the plate to get back in the game,” Schweinefus said. “Didn’t make enough plays.”
The defense rebounded and was the aspect that kept the Warriors in the game. South Winneshiek turned four double plays, ending rallies with two on in both the fourth and fifth.
“They make a mistake (and) they just come back next pitch ready to make the play,” Obermann said. “They did that again today. They made the plays down the stretch.”
South Winn rapped five hits, but they didn’t come in key situations. The Warriors stranded eight runners. They loaded the bases in the fifth with one out, but managed one run when Jared Schroeder scored on Ryan Hageman’s groundout. The tying run came to the plate, but Roland-Story reliever Zach Hovick got a ground ball to end the inning.
“We’ve been able to get that clutch hit all year,” Obermann said. “It just didn’t happen for us today.”
The Warriors had one of the best seasons in history for wins, won an Upper Iowa Conference title and reached the state quarterfinals.
“Just to make it was an accomplishment,” said senior pitcher Wyatt Opperman, who threw three innings of scoreless relief. “The feeling is great. It just sucks we had to end it so early.”
Urbanek, Clark and Tyler Hovick had two hits apiece and starter Alex Muhlenburg (6-1) struck out eight to earn his sixth win this season for Roland-Story. The Norsemen (27-12) face top-seeded North Polk in a semifinal match Thursday between Heart of Iowa Conference teams. North Polk (30-5) beat Maple Valley-AO, 7-1, getting a no-hitter from pitcher Cole Jackson.
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