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Hulme’s walk-off hit saves Redhawks from postseason scare

July 18, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The bottom of the seventh inning on Saturday finds the North Tama Redhawks down 2-1 to the visiting Wildcats of Central City. One team's season will come to an end after this inning, and the Redhawks certainly don't want to end their season in this fashion, losing on their own home field. Luke Pennell strikes out leading off the for North Tama, senior Parker Hulme gets hit by a pitch to get on base.

Then Cael Even, a senior who has worked his way into the order after missing parts of the season due to injury, comes up to bat with the intent of bunting. Instead, Even takes a swing for a single, putting two runners on as the top of the Redhawk order.

Though Tyler Morrison wouldn't reach first base in time, a grounded hit puts Parker on third, Even on second. Hale Hulme steps up for the biggest at-bat of his senior season thus far.

Article Photos

Survive and advance. The Redhawks celebrate Hale Hulme’s walk-off hit to send two runners home and win 3-2 over Central City on Friday.

"Right when I got up there and I talked to Coach Dan and he asked "you wanna swing it?," Hulme said. "I was ready to go, comfortable and it went."

Hulme waits for the second pitch, sending the fastball over left field as the two Redhawk runners dash across home plate. Final score: 3-2 Redhawks.

"It was an awesome feeling," Hulme said. "Guys were making plays, getting on and it helping the team in the long run."

Yet known of this would have happened if it weren't for what Kopriva wanted to be a bunt in the first place by Even.

"The biggest play in the world was Cael missing that bunt and then getting a base hit and then we win the game," coach Dan Kopriva said. "That was the one time everything worked out. I'm always disappointed when they don't get a bunt down because that was Cael's job, but he comes up with the infield hit, we move runners over and big hit, big hit. It worked out for us."

Yet that's far from how North Tama's first round matchup against Central City started off. Outside of a double by Ryan McLean, the Redhawks could not buy a hit in the first three innings of the postseason game on July 13. The Wildcats, however, took advantage of bases loaded from walks to score two and take a slim lead.

"I was getting upset with our boys that we're not making adjustments," Kopriva said. "We're popping up fly balls and I've seen a lot of teams stay in a game with easy plays."

After pitching for the better part of three innings, Ryan McLean was relieved by Hulme on the mound after the two runs by Central City. Hulme, who has battled shoulder tenderness this season, stepped up defensively as the Redhawks would hold the Wildcats to no runs in the remaining four innings to set up for the thrilling end and keep their season alive.

"I'm just happy we got the win," Kopriva said. "Hale hasn't throw for more than 22 innings, but you want a veteran like he is in crunch time. 3-2 win, but it's 10-0 in my book as far as I'm concerned."

The Redhawks will next face off against Belle Plaine (16-6), who smoked GMG 10-0 in Traer in the first game of the 1A District doubleheader. The second round will take place in Alburnett on Tuesday, July 16 at 5:00 p.m. With McLean's pitch count low, he is expected to be a factor on the hill for a game against a rising Plainsmen squad.

"They hit the heck out of the ball tonight and I was very impressed with them," Kopriva said. "I think they have three pitchers that eligible for them. They ended the year better than us. We got the second seed in our District, but if you gave the seed late in the year, you'd give it to them. I'm going in there thinking we're the underdogs. I like that role. Hopefully we'll keep them off balance because they really crushed the ball tonight."

The winner will face off against the victor between host Alburnett and Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Saturday, July 20, yet Hulme isn't looking that far ahead after the close win over Central City puts his sights on the Belle Plaine matchup.

"This win doesn't feel good, but we live for another day to prep for the next one and go get Belle Plaine," Hulme said.

The Redhawks will play in the District final on Saturday, July 18 at 7:00 p.m. after defeating Belle Plaine 4-2 on Tuesday.



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