DES MOINES — They didn’t even have a state tournament history eight days ago.
Yet as they entered Principal Park on Saturday afternoon, it seemed the history that would be written about the first Van Buren state baseball qualifying team was one of a team that perhaps was fated to win a championship in its initial appearance on the grand stage of state baseball tournament.
But after a week of good fortune had led them to the doorstep of a title in the program’s first state baseball appearance, the fortunes turned in an instant in the face of a program with plenty of history and plenty of success on this stage. Top-ranked Mason City Newman turned the tables on the young Warriors, turning a pair of early errors into a pair of four unearned runs that held up as the difference as the Knights claimed the program’s fourth state championship Saturday afternoon with a 6-2 win over first-time state finalist Van Buren.
“They did exactly what we’ve been doing the last couple of games. They took advantage of our mistakes,” sophomore Garrett Sanders said. “They did exactly what we’ve been doing. They took advantage of opportunities and it worked out for them.”
The key inning proved to be the third, which saw Robby Laughlin’s one-out throwing error open the door to a four-run inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Three of those runs were unearned as Parker Dondlinger, who should have been erased on Laughlin’s throw to second that sailed over Austin Bartholomew’s head, scored ahead of Joey Verstegen on a go-ahead two-run single by Kane Louscher.
Pete Lapointe then took advantage of the extra out provided by the error, delivering a two-out, two-run single to right to bring in Louscher and Casey Hall. Lapointe finished the day driving in four of Newman’s six runs, including bringing Joe Burgmeier with an unearned second-inning tally after Warrior starting pitcher Robert Barker’s errant pickoff throw allowed Burgmeier to go from first to third base with one out ahead of Lapointe’s sacrifice fly.