Promising Hawks may indeed return

By Paul Bowker
Posted 7/30/20

At the end of a long day in Des Moines, Mid-Prairie baseball captain Brad Tornow was left with a trophy.

It was another chapter in a storied baseball legacy at Mid-Prairie and at the same time …

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Promising Hawks may indeed return

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At the end of a long day in Des Moines, Mid-Prairie baseball captain Brad Tornow was left with a trophy.

It was another chapter in a storied baseball legacy at Mid-Prairie and at the same time promises of what was still to come.

Tornow accepted the Iowa Class 2A state tournament quarterfinalist plaque on behalf the Golden Hawks at Principal Park following a 13-3 loss Monday to West Lyon. He turned around and hoisted it high so all the Golden Hawks fans could see.

The Golden Hawks stood there behind Tornow, a moment in time, as if not sure what to do.

Well, they haven’t been here. Ever. They were toddlers when Mid-Prairie won its last state championship in 2004.

Tornow, a senior outfielder and pitcher, sensed what was coming tomorrow even though his today had ended.

The emotions were heavy.

“All the young guys are really hard workers,” Tornow said. “We lose seven seniors, but most of those juniors are there to come behind us and take our spots and succeed.”

Aiden Rath, a junior first baseman who hit nearly .600 this season, is one of those juniors who will soon be a rising senior.

“This will definitely help us work harder and push ourselves to be better next year,” Rath said.

The Golden Hawks are so close now. A loss to a really strong West Lyon squad doesn’t change anything. Mid-Prairie won eight consecutive games before running into a day at Principal Park when its pitchers just couldn’t find the strike zone. Even freshman pitcher Collin Miller, who has been called a “strike machine” by head coach Andy Greiner, threw a couple of fastballs over the head of everybody and to the Iowa Cubs backstop with a thud.

Greiner has seen this before.

He was an assistant coach with the Golden Hawks in the 2000s when Mid-Prairie made the state tournament four times and won it in 2004. For everybody else this year, it was a first. First Sunday night trip to Des Moines for states. First stepping on the field at Principal Park without having even one swing in a batting cage. First time looking up at that big scoreboard and two tiers of seats.

Just play?

Nerves? How could there not be?

“It’s hard to imagine that that didn’t play a small part in it,” Greiner said.

Just ask starting pitcher Keegan Gingerich. A solid starter for the Golden Hawks all summer, he just couldn’t find the strike zone. He walked three and hit two batters in the second alone. He bounced a wild pitch past catcher Vinny Bowlin.

And he got a rousing round of applause when he left the pitching mound in the second inning.

He deserved it.

The thing that will stick in your mind about this team is not the Nightmare in Des Moines, but instead a conference championship, a victory over West Liberty to win a district title and a win over Central Lee to win a substate title.

“This is really going to set the tempo for the program the next few years,” Greiner said after the substate victory. “We’ve got freshmen, we’ve got eighth graders who are participating in a game of this magnitude. These guys are going to be able to share with kids years from now that it’s worth it, the effort, the time that we put into baseball, it’s worth it. It really helps connect the dots.”

If the Golden Hawks find themselves in this same stadium in this same city one year from now, don’t be surprised to see former Golden Hawks like Tornow and Gingerich sitting in the very front row.

At that point, the dots are clearly connected.

 

Paul Bowker is sports editor of The News. He can be reached at sports@thenews-ia.com. Follow him at Twitter at: @bowkerpaul

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