By: Nathan Bloechl — email@example.com
Oskaloosa — For the first time since 2008, the New London Tiger baseball team has reached the pinnacle — and they’re not done yet.
The Tigers rode timely hitting, slick fielding and elite pitching to a 4-2 win yesterday over Mount Ayr in Oskaloosa clinching their spot in Carroll in next week’s Class 1A State Baseball Tournament.
New London got the scoring started in the 2nd inning and never trailed, grabbing the first olive on Ryan Richey’s booming solo home run, his first of the season.
Then, the Tigers held off every rally started by Mount Ayr.
Kooper Schulte inherited a jam in the 6th as the Raiders put the first two men on and chased New London starter Hecniel Rodriguez.
Brad Helmerson went with Kooper Schulte who induced three ground balls and kept the Tiger lead intact at 3-2.
From there, New London would add on the bottom of the 6th.
Ryan Richey reached on a fielder’s choice and after a Seth Bailey single that put runners on the corners with two men gone, Josh Catala stepped to the plate and grounded an 0-2 fastball into left field for a much needed insurance run.
That gave the Tigers their 4-2 they would not relinquish.
“When Josh is on it changes the game for everybody” Helmerson said.
“Josh just keeps fighting, he knows the strike zone well.”
Schulte worked a scoreless, 1-2-3 7th inning to earn the save as New London then mobbed him.
Hecniel Rodriguez earned the win — he was stellar over five innings, allowing just four hits and two runs while striking out nine.
New London, now 26-1, will play in Monday’s quarterfinal round of the 1A State Tournament at Merchant’s Park in Carroll.
Their opponent is TBD as of now.
Mount Ayr bows out 21-5.
Other Class 1A qualifiers:
- No. 3 Remsen St. Mary’s
- No. 4 Council Bluffs St. Albert
- No. 10 Tri-Center
- Grundy Center