Chickasaws claim epic win at substate
Down 6-0, New Hampton roared back to stun No. 1 ranked Roland-Story 9-8 in the Class 2A substate game Tuesday night in Mason City.
New Hampton won its fourth straight postseason game and continued its hot steak — it has won 12 of its last 14 games — to earn a trip to next week’s state tournament in Carroll, where it will play Centerville on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
“An unbelievable game,” coach Cory McDonald said, “and that doesn’t come close to describing it. I’m so proud of these boys. Most teams would have quit at 3-9 [New Hampton’s record after 12 games] or at 6-0 tonight, but not these guys. Oh my, oh my …”
Oh my, indeed, as New Hampton cut the deficit to 6-2 in the third inning and then used a four-run fifth inning — highlighted by freshman Talyn Bohaty’s two-run triple down the right field line — to tie the game.
After the Norsemen retook the lead in the bottom of the frame, New Hampton took the lead for good in the top of the sixth as Carson Babcock drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single and Bohaty drove in what proved to be a critical insurance run with a single to left.
Freshman Ben Gilbert got the win, pitching 4 1/3 innings of relief and giving up four hits while striking out six and walking five. Drake Wmeark got the last two outs of the game — both strikeouts — with the tying run at second base to earn a save.
But there were heroes galore on this night.
The defense was stellar — highlighted by two sensational catches, one from freshman centerfielder Braden McShane and the other an over-the-shoulder grab in short right field by senior first baseman Cael Leistikow. Bohaty went 4-for-4 and threw out a would-be base stealer at second base. Another freshman, Kael Meyers, went 2-for-3. So did senior second baseman Carson Babcock. Leistikow had a key double. All nine Chickasaw starters had hits; in fact, New Hampton outhit Roland-Story 15-6.
In short, this was a team win, one that propelled New Hampton to its second state tournament in three years. Not bad for a team that started the season losing its first three games by a combined score of 39-15 and was mired at 1-6 on June 3 and 3-9 on June 10.
And Tuesday’s game was a microcosm of the season. The Chickasaws started slow, found its footing and would not be denied.
“I was thinking, ‘Don’t get 10-runned,’” said senior Conner Rochford, who will in all likelihood start Tuesday’s state tournament game against Centerville, “and then we got those two runs, and it was like, ‘Hey, we can win this damn thing.’ And we did.”
And McDonald took a moment to thank a large and vocal crowd. Kirk Hardcastle, the PA announcer at Mason City’s Roosevelt Field, has attended hundreds of games at the old ballpark as both a newspaper reporter and an announcer. “That was as loud as I’ve heard Roosevelt in a long time,” he said.
“An epic game with an epic crowd,” he said. “That’s the story.”
— For more on New Hampton’s substate title game, see the July 27 Tribune