Gaels edge Warriors for district title

FORT DODGE, Iowa – The No. 6-seeded North Union Warriors baseball team upended No. 3-seeded Newell-Fonda and No. 2-seeded Bishop Garrigan, but couldn’t take down the No. 1-seeded St. Edmond Gaels.

Centerfielder Reid Johnson produced two runs on 2-for-3 hitting as the Gaels beat the Warriors, 3-0, in the Iowa Class 1A, District 4 championship game Saturday night at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Park in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

St. Edmond (18-12) will play West Sioux in the Class 1A, Substate 2 championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Spencer, Iowa. North Union ends the season with a 16-16 overall record.

“These kids played really well at the end of the season,” said Warriors head coach Chad Slagle. “We went into the middle stretch of the season this year where we were not playing very good baseball at all. To get back to .500 and to be in the district championship – two games away from the state tournament – I thought our guys really competed.”

The Warriors started the game strong, with Colin Runksmeier hitting a leadoff double to center in the first inning.

Braden Ortman followed with a bunt, beating the throw to first to reach. Ortman then stole second base before Gaels starting pitcher Robert Flattery struck out Parker Oleson and Trent Pedersen in back-to-back fashion.

Blake Crawmer grounded out for the final out.

“If we could have got one of those runs, just a chance to win the inning,” Slagle said. “I told the kids at the beginning of the game the team that comes through in situations is the team that’s going to win, and that was our chance to come through in that situation.”

The Gaels, however, produced a run early to take the lead that would last for the duration. Johnson led off with a single, then stole a base. Jason Setterdahl grounded out, but Johnson took advantage and wheeled his way home for the first score of the game.

“That was pretty good, aggressive base running and we weren’t able to get the out there at home,” Slagle said.

After the first inning, the Warriors never got a runner on base as Robert Flattery struck out seven batters to pocket the two-hit shutout victory.

Setterdahl reached on an error in the fourth inning, but didn’t generate a run as the Warriors got the last two outs.

But in the sixth, Setterdahl singled to deep center to get Johnson home. Johnson got a hit to reach and moved to second on Colin Flattery’s sacrifice bunt before taking the last two bases on Setterdahl’s hit for the 2-0 lead.

Setterdahl stole a base, then scored the third and final score on a wild pitch.

“When the game is that close, that’s when every pitch, every play matters. You can’t give good teams four, five outs in an inning,” Slagle said.

Runksmeier absorbed the loss, giving up three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

“I thought Colin did an excellent job,” Slagle said. “For the most part, he threw a gem there until the sixth inning when they got those couple of runs. That’s definitely the difference in the ball game.”

Runksmeier and Ortman had the lone hits for the Warriors in their last game of their prep careers.

“They’ve put a lot of time in here and have had a really great work ethic. I can’t say enough (about) what they’ve done for me, personally, as a baseball coach and for our baseball program,” Slagle said about seniors Runksmeier, Ortman and Ryan Larson. “They’re going to be awesome college students, have great careers and they’re going to be great fathers. That’s what it’s all about to me.”

NU 000 000 0-0 2 1

SE 100 002 x-3 4 0

Colin Runksmeier (LP) and Ryan Larson. Robert Flattery (WP) and Jake Szalat.

LOB-St. Edmond 2, North Union 2. 2B-Colin Runksmeier (NU). SAC-Colin Flattery (SE).