Remsen St. Mary’s baseball completed their redemption story on Friday afternoon in Carroll.
The Hawks defeated Lisbon 7-4 to win the 2023 Class 1A State Baseball Championship. It is the Hawks’ eighth state title in program history and first since 2016.
Remsen St. Mary’s head coach Dean Harpenau knows a thing or two about winning championships whether it was from his playing days in the 1980s at Remsen St. Mary’s or coaching with Gehlen Catholic and coach Marty Kurth in the 1990s. One thing he learned from hall of fame head coach Marv Thelen is that there is nothing sweeter than winning your last game of the season.
Senior Cael Ortmann had a whopping six hits throughout the state tournament. He says this win was for all the coaches who spent so much time with them over the last few years.
Senior Jaxon Bunkers who pitched three relief innings to pick up the save says the fan support has been amazing.
The game started with Remsen St. Mary’s capitalizing on a Jaxon Bunkers lead-off single and a Cael Ortmann double to get a 1-0 lead after one. Heading to the third inning, Remsen St. Mary’s exploded for three runs with two coming on a Collin Homan triple and another coming on a Hunter Pick base hit to make it a 4-0 game. Pick says he had to calm some nerves before settling in with a hit.
Remsen St. Mary’s then faced a scare when Lisbon scored three runs with two outs in the top of the fourth inning making it a 4-3 game. That inning ended up being the last for Homan allowing Bunkers to take over in relief. The senior says he had to be ready all day for that possibility.
With Bunkers settling in on the mound, The Hawks pushed across three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Pick drove in another run to give him two on the day. He says the lead-off hitters really set the tone for those big innings.
Those three more runs made the score 7-3 before Lisbon scored one more in the sixth to get to the final of 7-4. The win was an emotional one for Coach Harpenau who watched the guys go through some tough losses at state the last few years. He says it was a big relief when the final out was recorded.
After two state championships in football, four trips to state in basketball, one in golf, and five in baseball, Bunkers says there was no better way to leave his high school days behind than with a baseball state title.
The realization at the end of the day was this would be the last time we see the seniors in a Hawk uniform. Ortmann says he is going to miss playing for a community like Remsen that feels like one big family.
That then begs the question of how do the Hawks move forward without this senior group? Pick says it will not be easy, but it is up to him and other returning starters to continue building off the foundation this group laid.
Collin Homan says that building will come off this senior group’s work ethic and determination.
Coach Harpenau says the culture continues on the back of the underclassmen who know that they will have to step up big next season.
Remsen St. Mary’s becomes the eighth team in Iowa high school baseball history to win eight state titles counting fall and summer titles. The Hawks finish the year with a final record of 32-2. The senior class ends their baseball career with a record of 141-16, five trips to state, and a state championship.