Gaels advance to district final

STORY CITY – On the brink of elimination, the St. Edmond baseball team showed a flair for the dramatic Tuesday at Norsemen Field.

Trailing for much of the night, the determined Gaels (17-13 overall) used a late rally to escape with a 4-2 eight-inning upset over No. 7 Ogden in a Class 2A, District 4 semifinal.

Senior cleanup batter David Flattery capped an emotional day by plating Ryan Szalat with the go-ahead score for SEHS on a high-chopping single up the middle. Flattery, an Iowa Central recruit, earlier delivered a clutch two-run, game-tying longball to left-center field in the sixth – his first roundtripper of the year and third of his career.

Flattery finished 2-for-3 offensively with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored.

“I knew (Ogden ace southpaw Preston Church) was struggling with his control, and I just stayed with the (3-1) pitch through the (strike) zone and put a good swing on it,” said Flattery, who attended his 89-year old grandmother Denise Flattery’s funeral Tuesday morning. “On my single, Coach (Joe Shanks) told me to look for that first pitch. Once the count went to 2-0, I got a pitch right down the middle. I didn’t hit it very well, but I was still able to get it through the infield.

“A win like this is just huge, especially for us seniors.”

Tommy Setterdahl, another senior, collected three hits for the Gaels, while freshman Robert Flattery drove in the final SEHS tally on a sacrifice fly to right. Szalat came home with the decisive score after leading off the eighth with a key double.

“We did what we had to do to stay close, and we made a couple of big plays at the end,” Shanks said. “It was a great way for David to end a tough day. I’m sure Grandma Flattery was watching down on the boys and had a hand in (the victory).”

Junior Hank Crimmins (6-3) went the distance on the mound for the Gaels, yielding just four hits and two earned runs. Crimmins, who retired 15 of the last 17 hitters he faced, walked two and fanned eight. He also struck out the side in the seventh, while helping his own cause at the plate with a single and run scored.

“Hank had been struggling a little bit lately with walks and his mechanics, and (last night) was the first time he pitched since the first weekend in July,” said Shanks. “He settled in and pitched with more confidence as the game went on. In the last three innings, I think he probably threw about 99 percent breaking balls.”

Casey Good tripled and scored twice for the West Central Conference runner-up Bulldogs (21-9), who managed single runs in the first and third frames. Cody Good and Treston Hagen each notched a RBI.

Church (8-3) took the loss, allowing seven hits and three earned runs over 7-plus innings. The 6-foot-3 Western Illinois University recruit, who came in with a 0.63 ERA and 129 K’s in 55 1/3 innings, walked one with five strikeouts. Church worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second, inducing a groundout and flyout.

“We just battled and never gave in against an all-stater,” Shanks said. “With our schedule, we have seen some good pitching this year. Even if we had to take a loss or two because of it, those situations helped prepare us for (the postseason).”

Defensively, St. Edmond ended the contest with a crisp 4-6-3 double play from Aaron Chalstrom to David Flattery to Setterdahl.

With the victory, the Gaels have now prevailed in 14 of their past 18 games.

Sixth-ranked Roland-Story (25-13) now awaits SEHS in a 2A, District 4 final here Saturday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. The Norsemen advanced with an 8-1 triumph over Clarion-Goldfield in Tuesday’s other district semifinal.