DES MOINES — When Trenton Wallace’s final pitch of the game was missed by Harlan’s Logan Klaassen and found the mitt of catcher Tavien Gillette, the southpaw launched his glove high into the air.
A dogpile ensued.
Davenport Assumption had completed a summer sweep in dominating fashion.
After cruising to its first state softball crown a week ago, Assumption became the first baseball program in Iowa to claim 10 summer state titles Saturday night with a 10-1 rout over top-ranked Harlan in the Class 3A championship at Principal Park.
“It was a combination of relief and excitement,” Wallace said. “To be working for this goal for 2 1/2 to three years and to finally achieve it was a great feeling for this team.”
Like softball, Assumption had no equal in its classification.
The top-seeded and second-ranked Knights (41-5) outscored their six postseason opponents 62-6. Other than a 6-1 semifinal win over Dubuque Wahlert, Assumption tallied at least 10 runs in every playoff game.
“It shows that we don’t just have great pitching but we also have a great lineup,” senior Nolan Melchert said. “One through nine, everybody can hit the ball.”
Assumption’s season-long motto was “First to 10.” It was talked about in the preseason, throughout the regular season and emphasized in the postseason with a countdown after each win.
“This is what we’ve been working for all summer,” outfielder Ryan Wohlers said. “It has been our goal since Day 1.”
The Knights passed Kee High (Lansing) for the most summer championships, a program that was led by legendary coach Gene Schultz. Norway, which was led by coaching icon, Jim Van Scoyoc, won eight.
“It is really an honor to be mentioned with programs like Kee and Norway,” Assumption coach Billy Argo said. “I don’t know when we’ll catch Norway, though (20 all-time baseball titles).”
Wallace (11-0) overpowered the Cyclones with 13 strikeouts, pushing his season total to 112. The Iowa signee fanned seven of Harlan’s first nine hitters and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
“I felt like my fastball definitely had some zip on it tonight,” he said.
Gillette told Argo and the coaching staff before the game that Wallace had a lively warmup session in the bullpen.
“We didn’t handle his velocity very well early,” Harlan coach Steve Daeges said. “Once we saw him once, the second and third time around, we started to get some swings on him. But by that time, it was too late.”
Assumption attacked and scored in every frame.
Melchert continued his torrid hitting with a two-out double in the first inning to plate Ben Beutel.
Then after Harlan coaxed a walk in the second, Brett Sears stole second. The ball caromed into the outfield. Sears took third and Daeges waved him home.
Beutel, in center field, charged it and rifled a throw home that Gillette caught to tag out Sears.
“At first, I thought (Luke) Fennelly (shortstop) was going to get it,” Beutel said. “Then I was like, ‘I have to get this.’ It was a good play by Tavien to make that tag.
“That stopped any momentum.”
Beutel starred in the bottom half of the inning, too. With two outs and two on, he laced a 1-1 fastball from Sears down the left-field corner for a two-run double to make it 3-0.
The Knights tacked on with a run in the third, two more in the fourth and two in the fifth. Suddenly, the game was out of hand.
“We needed to keep them from getting on the board early,” Daeges said. “Once you get down three or four to Wallace, you’ve dug a hole that is going to be very, very difficult to get out of.”
Melchert put an exclamation point on it with a mammoth two-run homer in the sixth, his second of the tournament that landed on the roof of a restaurant over the left-field wall.
Headed to Coe College to play football and baseball, Melchert finished the three games at Principal Park with six hits and eight RBIs.
“It is a dream come true to hit a home run in a state championship game,” Melchert said. “It is going to be impossible to forget this, the best feeling in the world.”
Wohlers also had two hits in the title game for the Knights, who also capitalized on six walks, two hit batsmen and eight wild pitches.
The only drama in the seventh inning was whether Wallace could finish the game.
Nearing the maximum pitch count of 110 for a day, he had thrown 102 with only one out in the seventh.
Wallace reared back and struck out the final two hitters. The last pitch of his high school career was his 110th.
The two-time Mississippi Athletic Conference player of the year yielded only one earned run in his last 42 2/3 innings of work this summer.
“He’s been our bell cow the last three years,” Argo said. “The way it ended the last couple of years for us against a really tough, tough kid (Central DeWitt’s TJ Sikkema), it was great to see him and those seniors go out like this.
“He’s been a huge part of our success, and he’s really going to be missed.”
Wallace is one of seven seniors on Assumption’s roster expected to go on and play college baseball.
Once Wallace put his sweaty palms on the championship trophy, he bear-hugged it and gave it a giant kiss. He watched former teammate Jake Gervase do that three years ago in Assumption’s last state title run.
“To hold that trophy in your hands again, it is hard to describe,” Wallace said. “When I saw Jake grab it and to just see the look in his eyes as he held the trophy gives you goosebumps down your body.
“To finally get it, hold it and give it a kiss is the greatest feeling I’ve had in my life.”
Assumption 10, Harlan 1
Brett Sears, Kyle Schmitz (4), Jacob Croghan (5) and Jared Moser. Trenton Wallace and Tavien Gillette. WP — Wallace (11-0). LP — Sears (9-1). Two or more hits — Assumption, Nolan Melchert, Ryan Wohlers. 2B — Assumption, Ben Beutel, Melchert, Ryan Wohlers. HR — Assumption, Melchert. RBI — Assumption, Melchert 4, Beutel 2, Justus Burke, Wohlers.
Final records: Harlan 36-3; Assumption 41-5