For the third time this week, Martensdale-St. Marys (Martensdale, Iowa)
fell behind in a Class A state tournament baseball game.
And for the third time, the Blue Devils rallied for a victory.
This time it was for all the marbles as they won a classic matchup against powerhouse Kee (Lansing, Iowa)
, 8-3, after trailing by a 3-2 margin in the fourth inning. Kee is coached by Gene Schultz, who has won 11 state titles and over 1600 games - more than any other prep baseball coach in history.
That gave the Blue Devils a second consecutive state championship and stretched their national-record winning streak to a phenomenal 87 games.
During Thursday's semifinal round, they had overcome a 3-0 deficit to eliminate Coon Rapids-Bayard (Coon Rapids, Iowa), 5-4. In the quarterfinals, they nipped English Valleys (North English, Iowa), 2-1, after trailing, 1-0.
Coach Justin Dehmer, who never sought more than a second consecutive state title, appeared to take everything in stride.
He told MaxPreps, "We were about the process of staying focused and what we could control. These guys were able to shake off all the pressures and controversies (from playing with some key transfers). It's amazing to think that we did this 87 times."
There were several heroes in the finale, but No. 9 batter Brad Nauman
was the most unlikely one. The junior center fielder singled in the tying run during the fourth inning and his two-run single during a four-run fifth put the champs ahead to stay.
Dehmer revealed that Nauman had two sub-par games earlier in the week, so he had a private talk with him prior to the championship game. The pep talk obviously worked.
Junior shortstop Robert Walker
also drove in three runs with a double and single.
Ace pitcher Ethan Westphal
– one of just two seniors on the team – pitched the last four innings and shut the door on the Hawks.
Interestingly, Portsmouth (N.H.) finished its spring season with what was then a national-record 83-game winning streak - so it still has a chance to match and even surpass the Blue Devils before they start the 2012 season next summer.
"It's definitely interesting and pretty cool to know they are doing their thing and we are doing our thing," Dehmer acknowledged. "It's good for high school baseball."
Realizing they probably never could play each other due to the different seasons, Dehmer said, "It's very unlikely that (the matchup) will happen. I told a reporter to get us hooked up at Fenway Park (in Boston) and we'll be there."