Defending state runner-up North Linn denies Chickasaws return trip to Principal Park
North Linn made a return trip to the state tournament on Tuesday night in the Class 2A, Substate 3 final with a 6-3 win over New Hampton and head coach Cory McDonald at Hertel Field on the campus of Warburg College in Waverly.
The No. 2 rated Lynx held off a late charge from the Chickasaws - which were also gunning for a chance to play on the state tournament field again at Principal Park after qualifying for state for the first time in school history in 2019.
The Chickasaws (11-10) struck first in the opening inning after senior Hunter Pesek came around to score after a fly ball in shallow right was dropped by the Lynx second baseman.
The powerhouse Lynx responded right away off Chickasaw junior ace Conner Rochford in the following frame. North Linn (18-2) strung together four-consecutive base hits to stake claim to a 3-1 lead.
The game was delayed for approximately 20 minutes due to rain in the top of the third inning.
Two throwing errors by the Chickasaw infield with two outs on back-to-back grounders led to two earned runs for North Linn in the fourth inning.
Down, 5-1, New Hampton threatened in the sixth by breaking up North Linn senior lefthander Nathan McEnany's no-hitter with a long double to deep left field by Chickasaw senior Brayden Anderson. Anderson cranked the first pitch he saw to start the frame and trouble was brewing for the Lynx. McEnany managed to keep Anderson at third with no runs scored to escape the rally with no damage done.
New Hampton would chase McEnany in the final inning, loading the bases with one out. Pesek drew an RBI walk and Anderson lifted a long sacrifice fly to right center near the warning track for the final tally of the evening for the Chickasaw bats.
Rochford was lifted in the bottom of the sixth after giving up an RBI single to Ben Wheatley, which made it a five-run disadvantage for New Hampton, down 6-1.