Alburnett advances past North Mahaska
There was no sweeter sight for the substantial chunk of Alburnett fans who made the trip from Linn County than the 12th run of the night crossing home plate.
The Pirates turned an early 2-0 deficit into a convincing 12-2 victory over North Mahaska in the Class 1A Substate 4 final Tuesday night in Marshalltown, clinching a berth at state for the first time since 2019.
Alburnett will go to state with a record of 28-9.
The Pirates did not get off to the best start, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning to the Warhawks on four hits. The difficult first inning forced Alburnett into a pitching change, as Caden Evans entered the game in relief of Hunter Caves.
Alburnett head coach Ryan Stensland described the change and the impact it had on the game, especially with Evans struggling with shoulder issues earlier in the year.
“Evans, he’s a battler,” Stensland said. “We just felt like Caves maybe didn’t quite have what we needed to get out of him. Not that he couldn’t have done it, but we needed somebody who was maybe going to be able to spot up the fastball a little bit better. Caden was able to come in and give us five innings.”
The Pirates were on the back foot before taking their first at-bats, but the bottom of the first provided a first glance at the problems which would end North Mahaska’s chances.
Two runs scored on errors for the Pirates, with Caves and Reed Stallman the ones to reach home.
No runs were scored in the second inning as it felt like the game was settling down. The Warhawks were stopped in the top of the third as well, part of Evans’ five innings of scoreless work. He gave up three hits and one walk in six innings, striking out six.
Things changed in the bottom of the third inning when Stallman stepped up to the plate. The senior first baseman caught a hanging curveball and lashed it over the fence in right-center, putting Alburnett ahead 3-2.
“It was definitely a no-doubter, but I wanted to make sure I ran it out,” Stallman said. “He hung me two curveballs in a row and they weren’t really pitching to me .”
Alburnett didn’t look back. Karson Rose brought Blaine McGraw home in the bottom of the fourth inning with a groundout, while three runs scored in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Pirates some wiggle room. Kale Rose drove home two runs with a double and then scored himself on an error. Errors were a big problem for the Warhawks. They committed five of them, which allowed Alburnett to be aggressive in taking advantage of its opponent’s mistakes. The Pirates played a clean game defensively with no errors.
Evans continued to hold North Mahaska at bay, and in the sixth inning the Warhawks went down in order. Despite seven hits, the Warhawks just could not find ways to bring runs home.
With a ways to go in the bottom of the sixth, Alburnett got off to a hot start with Gavin Soukup, Caves and Andrew Ossman reaching base. Caves and Ossman had RBIs as the lead jumped to 9-2. Stallman and Neighbor reached base, then both advanced on a balk. Dylan Barenz was the courtesy runner for Neighbor, and he represented the winning run at second base when Kale Rose took the batters’ box.
When his line drive snuck past an infielder’s glove and bounced into the outfield, the game was all but done. Barenz slid home and beat the catcher’s tag to roars from the crowd, as Alburnett’s players spilled onto the diamond. Kale Rose finished with a game-high four RBIs.
Stallman was at a loss for words when trying to describe his emotions.
“Words can’t even describe it, man,” Stallman said. “Last year we got sent home early in the second round and this year we got off to a rough start and then we brought it back in the back half of the season. We really just put it together as a team. It was a great team effort tonight, and it feels amazing. Even if it’s not Principal Park, Carroll will do.”
Seeding and matchups for Class 1A will be released in the next couple of days, with play getting underway at 11 a.m. Monday in Carroll.
Alburnett 12, North Mahaska 2
Council Bluffs St. Albert 8, CAM, Anita 5
Grundy Center 5, Coon Rapids-Bayard 4
Kee Community 11, Northwood-Kensett 0
Lisbon 9, Maquoketa Valley 2
New London 4, Mount Ayr 2
Remsen-St. Mary’s 11, Newell-Fonda 0
Tri-Center 5, Kingsley-Pierson 0
Camanche 12, Dyersville Beckman 11
Centerville 12, Pleasantville 1
Clarinda 8, Panorama 3
Davis County 7, Mid-Prairie 4
Denver 3, Jesup 2
New Hampton 9, Roland-Story 8
Unity Christian 8, Estherville-Lincoln Ctrl. 2
Van Meter 11, Alta-Aurelia 0
(All games 7 p.m. unless noted)
ADM, Adel (11-17) at Boone (22-9)
Benton Community (14-22) at Marion (33-6)
Central DeWitt (22-15) vs. Davenport Assumption (25-13), at Muscatine
Independence (27-13) at Dubuque Wahlert (29-10)
MOC-Floyd Valley (26-8) at Storm Lake (27-5)
Waverly-Shell Rock (32-7) at Webster City (26-1)
Winterset (21-11) at Gilbert (23-8)
Cedar Falls (18-20) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (31-8)
Indianola (30-10) at Johnston (34-7)
Iowa City High (29-13) at Ottumwa (29-9)
Linn-Mar (18-22) at Pleasant Valley (33-4)
Mason City (24-16) at Dowling Catholic (31-7)
North Scott (26-13) at Dubuque Hempstead (29-10), 5 p.m.
Waukee (25-15) at Norwalk (29-6)
West Des Moines Valley (19-19) at Ankeny (30-6)