116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CARROLL — The road may not have ended where Mid-Prairie wanted, but it was one heck of a journey.
Even if a rebuilding year was expected, the Golden Hawks can reload with the experience from this postseason run.
“We were kind of overlooked from the get-go,” Mid-Prairie junior Cain Brown said. “How far our players have come, and as a team, is crazy to look at. I’m so proud of these guys.”
Second-seeded Estherville-Lincoln Central overcame an early deficit and upended No. 6 Mid-Prairie’s bid for a second straight upset, recording a 7-4 victory in the Class 2A state baseball semifinals Thursday night at Merchants Park.
“It was a good game,” Mid-Prairie Kyle Mullet said. “We battled. Our guys never gave up on their at-bats. We played a good Estherville team. They were on and hit the ball well. We did what we needed to do and put the ball in play. Just came up short.“
The Golden Hawks (19-11) made their fifth state semifinal appearance. They are now 1-4 with the lone semifinal win coming in 2004. Mid-Prairie avenged a loss to No. 3-seed Cascade in the quarterfinals and downed No. 6-ranked West Marshall to reach state.
“We worked our butts off every day we didn’t have a game and we had a game just about every day,” Mid-Prairie senior Tyler Helmuth said. “We started the season a little rough and slowly got better. As soon as the playoffs hit, we turned it on. The bats came on, the errors were going away and we started doing our thing and playing our game.”
The long ball gave ELC (33-2) its first lead and small ball allowed the Midgets to pull away.
Blake Ingvall had a hand in both, helping them take their first lead the following inning. Owen Larson singled before Ingvall ripped a two-run home run off the bottom of the scoreboard in right field for a 4-3 advantage.
“I thought I only burned him,” Ingvall said. “I thought it was burn double and all of a sudden it was ‘clink’ scoreboard. I looked around and nobody was really signaling home run. I was making sure and the second-base ump said it was over, so I started trotting home. It felt amazing.”
ELC pulled away with a three-run fifth. Ryan Schiltz led off with a single and Larson was hit by a pitch. Ingvall dropped down a bunt single to load the bases, setting up Carter Snyder for a two-run single.
Ingvall scored on Blake Evans’ bunt single to make it a 7-3 ballgame with two innings remaining.
Mid-Prairie opened the scoring in the second, loading the bases with none out. Dylan Henry and Brock Harland walked, sandwiching the error on Collin Miller’s sacrifice bunt.
The Midgets almost escaped unscathed, getting a lineout for the first out and a grounder to pitcher Landon Vaske. He got the out at home but Will Cavanagh hustled down the line and was called safe at first, extending the inning and bringing up leadoff man Cain Brown.
Brown delivered a bouncer through the right side to bring in a run. When the right fielder misplayed the ball, it rolled behind him and cleared the bases for Mid-Prairie’s 3-0 lead.
Estherville answered in its half of the inning. Snyder walked and Seth Busch and Griffin Hoyer singled. Grant Love followed with a two-run base hit, cutting the deficit to one.
Cavanagh led the Golden Hawks with two hits. Karson Grout added an RBI groundout in the seventh in their final attempt at a rally.
Mid-Prairie returns all but two players after graduating eight last year. The Golden Hawks have depth and some seasoned players who have played in two state tournaments.
"For our sophomores and juniors to do what they did this year was huge,“ Mullet said. ”it will make them hungry. Good experience.
“I think our leadership from our two seniors Will Cavanagh and Tyler Helmuth shows that attitude and effort carries over to the team. For these young guys, it’s huge for them. Hopefully, we can be back here next season.“
The Midgets advance to the final against the winner between top-seeded and defending state champion Van Meter and No. 4-seed Dyersville Beckman.
“It feels great,” Ingvall said. “This trip we got our first (state) win in program history and then double it with another one. We’ll play tomorrow at 2:30 and see how it goes.”