NEW HAMPTON — Handed Class 2A’s No. 1 ranking just before the start of postseason play, New Hampton has decided to become the hunter rather than the hunted.
Saturday night, the Chickasaws (32-2) turned away a challenge from South Winneshiek (20-13) for the District 5 championship, 9-2. Tuesday night in Cedar Falls, they’ll take on Denver for a berth in the state tournament. The Cyclones rolled to a 12-1 win over Jesup Saturday.
“It has been no secret what our goal has been all year,” New Hampton coach Cory McDonald said. “This entire season our mantra has been, put the pedal to the metal and don’t let up, and we’re not going to change that now.”
The Chickasaws put the hammer down early Saturday as they chalked up a pair of runs in the first inning with Ryan Gorman delivering a run-scoring double followed by a sacrifice fly by Zack Wemark.
A four-run second aided by two Warriors errors stretched the lead to 6-0. Carter Stochl stroked a one-out single to score Josh Fenske, and Gorman brought in another tally with a ground out.
“These guys work so hard every day and they expected themselves to make the playoffs,” said McDonald, whose team played errorless defense. “They expect to make every play and we expect that of them.”
The Chickasaws defeated the Warriors 12-0 in the season-opener.
“My hat’s off to (South Winn) coach Alex Smith,” McDonald said. “He is an excellent baseball coach that always, always improves that team as the year goes on.
“I take my hat off to their whole team. They have improved so much and tonight they made us earn it. It wasn’t easy.”
The Warriors touched up New Hampton starting pitcher Gorman with two runs in the third on two hits.
Kody Kleve singled to begin the frame and Nate Kuennen reached after being hit by a pitch. Hunter Todd singled in the first run and another hit batsman produced the second.
“I lost a little of my confidence in my off-speed pitch and that hurt me a little,” said Gorman. “Coach McDonald came out and just told me to calm down and trust in myself. He knows me so well and he knows my actions. That helped me settle down and we got through it.”
Gorman got a ground out to end that inning and then put the Warriors down 1-2-3 in the fourth. He also helped his cause at the plate by driving in three runs.
“During the whole year we have been working on scoring runners when they are in position with less than two outs,” added Gorman. “Our whole mentality this year has been making sure we get runners in.”
The Chickasaws tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth inning to ice the deal.
“The guys have earned this spot and we will let them enjoy being (district) champions for now,” said McDonald.
New Hampton 9, South Winn. 2
South Winn. 002 000 0 — 2 2 3
New Hampton 240 003 x — 9 6 0
M.Holthaus, Tieskoetter (6), Elsbernd (6) and Kleve. Gorman, Tenge (5) and Fye. 2B—Gorman (NH)