116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CARROLL — South Winneshiek thrived on pitching and defense.
The Warriors played to their strengths throughout the season, tallying 36 victories, shutting out all four district and substate foes and returning to state for the third time in four seasons.
The elements were there, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome top-ranked Remsen St. Mary’s. The top-seeded Hawks ended the scoreless inning streak in their first two at-bats and received a gem from starter Carter Schorg to defeat No. 8-seed South Winn, 6-0, in the Class 1A state baseball quarterfinals Monday at Merchants Park.
“It’s been a tremendous run on our part,” South Winn Coach Alex Smith said. “We knew going in we had to keep it a low-scoring game. They’re very good on the mound. They have so many options they can go to.
“We had to keep it close. They had a couple big hits. We could have made some plays here or there. They put up a number of six that was going to be hard for us to achieve.”
St. Mary’s (34-0) pounced immediately. Schorg retired the Warriors in order to open the game and then belted a leadoff triple. Jaxon Bunkers followed with a base hit to put the Hawks up 1-0, ending the streak of 28 straight innings without allowing a run.
“It was a little wake-up call for us,” Smith said. “We hadn’t given one up and then boom-boom. I think it was two swings. First pitch both times and it was on us.
“Credit to (starter) Keagen (Streeter) for settling in and holding them to one run in that inning. They never had the big, big inning but they scored on us and scratched away.”
Schorg and Bunkers teamed up for two more in the third. Schorg drew a leadoff walk and Bunkers followed with a two-run home run over the left field fence. Collin Homan blasted a solo shot that cleared the trees beyond the right-field fence in the fourth. Hunter Pick added an RBI double in the two-run fifth.
“They just put up numbers against us,” Smith said. “It’s a quality hitting team up and down the lineup. It just didn’t go that way for us on the pitching end and defensive side.”
Schorg (11-0) was tough on the mound, giving up one hit and striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Only three total runners reached base and just one made it to third.
“They are a very good team,” Streeter said. “Their pitcher located very well on the outer half. Going into this we weren’t a great hitting team, obviously. He could locate and we struggled up there.”
Jamie Kuennen had the lone hit for the Warriors (36-5). He had a one-out single in the second, which was the only inning South Winn had multiple batters reach base.
“I thought we battled,” Kuennen said. “We played well. A couple errors but that doesn’t change the fact we played a complete game. We stayed in it.”
The loss doesn’t overshadow the success of the season, including the stretch before the quarterfinals that culminated with a 2-0 win over fourth-ranked and 2021 state finalist Lansing Kee.
“It’s been awesome, especially with this team,” Streeter said. “I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’ve played with these guys in every sport and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
The Warriors bid farewell to eight seniors — six in the offensive lineup and two more who pitched. Some have dressed and played for three state-qualifying teams in their five seasons.
“That’s pretty special,” Smith said. “They’re a joy to coach. They are a group that loved every opportunity on the field. They were always looking for the next day to practice and the next game they got to play.”
The Warriors still return a lot of talent, which includes Streeter, who led the team with eight wins, 109 strikeouts and 63 innings pitched. They are still in search of their first state victory, but the focus is to be right back here next year.
“It’s been fun,” Kuennen said. “Hope we can do it again next year.”