Golden Hawks top West Liberty to win first baseball district title since 2007

By Paul Bowker
Posted 7/23/20

The wait for a district championship in baseball had gone on since, well, the pre-kindergarten years for these Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks.

So, when Mid-Prairie freshman reliever Collin Miller …

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Golden Hawks top West Liberty to win first baseball district title since 2007

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The wait for a district championship in baseball had gone on since, well, the pre-kindergarten years for these Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks.

So, when Mid-Prairie freshman reliever Collin Miller retired the final West Liberty batter Saturday night in the Class 2A District 9 title game to finish off a 7-5 victory, the Golden Hawks charged onto the field and met for a celebration in front of the pitching mound.

Screams of joy echoed around the ballpark as the images were caught on cellphones from all directions.

Summer of coronavirus? At least on this one night, the summer of ’20 meant something else in Golden Hawk country.

“It definitely means a lot to me, just to play with all my friends, continue on with them,” said Mid-Prairie junior Aidan Rath, who hit a home run and drove in four runs with two hits.

Golden Hawks head coach Andy Greiner took in the scene as if to permanently etch the moment into his memory for all time. It was 13 years coming. The last Mid-Prairie title, Greiner said, came in 2007. Some of his current Hawks were two at the time.

“All in all, a good body of work. District 9 champions. Couldn’t be prouder,” Greiner said. “This is a big night for us.”

The victory sent the Golden Hawks to the Substate 5 final on Tuesday night against Central Lee High School of Donnellson. (Results from that game will appear in the July 30 edition of The News).

The state tournament begins July 24 at Principal Park in Des Moines.

Getting to the substate final was no easy task for the Golden Hawks, who won their seventh straight game in Saturday’s district final. Mid-Prairie trailed 3-0 in the first inning and the Golden Hawk fans were getting nervous when the Hawks entered the fifth inning still down by one.

Starting pitcher Keegan Gingerich settled down after a rocky first inning and went five more innings.

“We knew that it was going to be tough,” Greiner said. “As soon as we knew we had West Liberty, we knew it was going to be an absolute battle. That’s exactly what they brought. We’re fortunate to have won tonight.”

Remember this name: Aiden Rath.

Rath launched a three-run homer over the right-field fence to quickly turn a three-run deficit into a 3-3 tie.

Rath was intentionally walked in his next two trips to the plate. But then, in the fifth inning, with Mid-Prairie ahead 6-4, the Comets chose to pitch to Rath. Big mistake. He slammed another long ball, this time the ball hitting off the center field fence as Brad Tornow scored for the Golden Hawks.

The Golden Hawks had taken a 6-4 lead in the fifth inning on run-scoring hits by Chris Miller and Keegan Gingerich.

 

July 14

Mid-Prairie 12

West Branch 2

Aidan Rath had two hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs, leading Mid-Prairie to its sixth consecutive win in a district semifinal-round game on July 14.

Seniors Monte Slabaugh and Chris Miller also had two hits in the Golden Hawks’ 12-2 victory against West Branch in a game played in Wellman.

Leading 3-1, the Golden Hawks scored seven runs in the fifth inning and two more runs in the sixth to end it.

Will Cavanagh, a sophomore, scored three runs.

Slabaugh struck out three over five innings and earned the win for Mid-Prairie. Brad Tornow pitched a hitless inning in the sixth.

Brad Hunger had three hits for West Branch (6-10).

 

 

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