DUNLAP, Iowa — Trey Brix held it together Thursday through the postgame speech with his team. He kept his composure through an interview with the media.
But a few minutes later, after everyone else had exited the field, the Walnut baseball coach remained, squatting with his head down near third base. That’s where the emotions poured through his body and it hit him: Walnut Warrior athletics are officially over.
At 9:01 p.m., Logan-Magnolia completed a 10-0 win over Walnut in a Class 1-A district baseball semifinal on the Boyer Valley High School diamond. Due to declining numbers, Walnut will share all of its activities with A-H-S-T and become A-H-S-T/Walnut in the fall.
“I just needed a second,’’ said the 23-year-old Brix, a 2007 Walnut graduate. “I always thought it would be harder going out as a player then it is as a coach. But in this situation it is 10 times harder … to know that you don’t have a team to come back to.’’
Walnut, rated eighth in western Iowa (Class 2-A/1-A) by The World-Herald, had its chances. It finished with nine hits and left eight runners stranded, including six in scoring position. It also had a runner thrown out at the plate. The Warriors finished their final baseball season at 15-7.
“That was one thing I wanted to do, was get them to the state tournament to experience what I got to experience,’’ said Brix, a member of two state teams as a player.
On this night, Walnut couldn’t overcome an impressive hitting display by the WI No. 2 Panthers (24-5), who advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. district final against WI No. 1 and state No. 5 St. Albert (20-6), which blanked A-H-S-T 4-0.
Logan-Magnolia sprayed 15 hits throughout the park, led by Nate Fender’s 4-for-4 effort that included two RBIs and four runs scored. Zack Powley went 3 for 5 with an RBI, while Brett Greenwood finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs and Brady Charbonneau drove in two runs.
Lo-Ma strung together five of its hits in a four-run fourth inning to chase Walnut starter Lucas Blum (7-3), who entered the game with 127 strikeouts in 66-2/3 innings to go with 19 walks and a 0.63 ERA.
“We’d never seen this kid, but had heard a lot of good things about him,’’ Logan-Magnolia coach Will Azinger said. “He’s got great stats, we just didn’t quite know what to expect. I was happy with the way our kids responded.’’
Fender made some key pitches to end some Walnut threats and went the distance, striking out four.
Several of the Walnut fans wore T-shirts that said “Final Season’’ on the back. This year’s senior class had just 18 students. Six were in Thursday’s starting lineup.
Senior Austen Stevens said it’s been difficult for his class to accept that this was the last year of Walnut athletics.
“We wanted these (younger) guys to go through it, too, and have fun being a Warrior,’’ he said. “But we can’t do much about it.’’
Walnut assistant coach Denny Book, 59, felt some sadness in the minutes after the final out, but said he’s satisfied with what the program accomplished over the years.
“It’s been fun,’’ he said.
Logan-Magnolia (24-5)..........................002 403 1—10 15 2
Walnut (15-7)...................................000 000 0— 0 9 1
W: Nate Fender (7-1). L: Lucas Blum (7-3). 2B: LM, Zack Powley 2, Fender, Logan Melby; W, Jared Ploen.
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