BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
Shane Weirather called it “solid contact,” and it was.
It didn’t feel that way to the guy who hit it.
“Felt like nothing hit the bat, really,” Central Lee’s Jadon Hawk said. “That’s when you know it’s a good hit.”
Hawk’s home run tied the game, a dropped fly ball brought in the go-ahead run, and the diving catch of another fly ball turned into a double play.
Central Lee’s 2-1 win over Mediapolis in Saturday’s Class 2A district final was described as “pretty good baseball” by Weirather, the Hawks’ coach, and he was right.
Dylan Stuecker and Hawk combined on a five-hitter as the Hawks (12-1) advance to Tuesday’s substate final against Mid-Prairie.
Hawk’s one-out home run in the fourth inning tied the game.
“Fastball, belly high,” Hawk said. “Just where I like it.”
Central Lee had just one hit over the first three innings against Mediapolis starter Tyler Samuel. Five of the first nine outs were soft fly balls.
So when Hawk connected?
“Huge,” Weirather said.
Central Lee then took the lead an inning later. Alex Sandoval led off the inning with a single and stole second base. Samuel struck out Jonny Snider and got Kade Myhre on an infield popup.
T.J. Stutes followed with a fly ball to Mediapolis center fielder Josh Darbyshire that looked like the third out. But Darbyshire misplayed the ball, and Sandoval scored easily.
Hawk took over for Stuecker in the sixth and promptly gave up a double to Jaxon Brooks to start the inning. Max McClure followed with a fly ball into left field that looked like it might fall for a hit, but Myhre made a diving catch, then got up and threw to second to get the double play on Brooks, who had started running before he tried to race back to the base.
“Oh, amazing,” Weirather said. “Amazing catch.”
“Saved my butt, that’s for sure,” Hawk said. “I hung a curveball, and he hit it out there. I saw it started to fall in that little triangle there between (shortstop), center and left. If it got by him … he made a hell of a play … but if it had gotten by him it would have been a lot of trouble.”
Hawk walked Colby Whitaker to start the seventh inning, then struck out the next three hitters to complete the win.
The Hawks opened the postseason with a 9-6 win over Van Buren. This game had a different tone.
“It’s pretty good baseball,” Weirather said. “Played pretty good defense. We pitched really well. We kept it close. We didn’t have to score a bunch of runs. So if you have to win it 2-1…”
Central Lee will take on Mid-Prairie on Tuesday for the right to return to the state Class 2A tournament.