DES MOINES —
“I think that throw I made into centerfield is where the wheels really came off the wagon a little,” Laughlin said. “We had the tables turned on us in this one. The ball just didn’t fall our way in this one, but I don’t know a whole lot else we could have done to win this.”
In the end, those were the kind of mistakes Van Buren head coach Chad Scott knew his team could not afford to make in a state championship game. Especially because, with an opponent like Mason City Newman, extra opportunities like the ones provided to the Warriors by Don Bosco and Van Meter in the first two rounds of the state tournament would not be coming on Saturday.
“They (Mason City Newman) had four senior starters and quite a few juniors. They’re a veteran club that’s well coached and we knew that coming in,” Scott said. “They’re not going to make mistakes and, uncharacteristically, we made a few and it got us.”
For their part, Van Buren did a pretty good job creating opportunities off 7-0 sophomore Newman pitcher Kaden Wadle. The Warriors outhit the Knights 11-9 in the 1A title tilt and got lead-off singles in four of the seven innings.
The first of those lead-off hits turned into a game-tying run for the Warriors. After allowing an unearned run to score in the second, Barker came around to score as junior Tanner Smith delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to right.
“In the eight-spot (in the lineup), I’m not thinking about putting on over the fence. I’m thinking about coming up with a base hit,” Smith said. “I knew we had a runner in scoring position and he gave me an outside pitch. I just tried to take it the other way. It felt good to contribute to the game at that moment.”