SOLON, Iowa — Nate Offerman told his Dyersville Beckman teammates he would deliver the game-winning hit moments before he stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the seventh.
Sure enough, the sophomore shortstop made good on his promise, and it appeared for several minutes as though he would be the hero.
But, in an Iowa Class 2A Substate 5 championship game filled with all kinds of plot twists, Camanche had the last at-bat and answered an improbable Beckman rally with one of its own in the bottom of the seventh.
The Indians edged the Trailblazers, 12-11, to earn the third state tournament appearance in program history and first since 1996. Camanche (23-6) will play in the eight-team state tournament next week in Carroll, while No. 10-ranked Beckman (21-15) fell just shy of the 19th state tournament berth in program history.
“I told a couple of guys in our dugout, ‘If I get up, I’m going to end this. I’m going to get a base hit to end this sucker,’” Nate Offerman said. “I did it, and we all thought that was the end. But, clearly, Camanche didn’t want to give up. All the seniors on that team wanted to keep fighting, and they came out with it.
“It’s emotional. I love all the seniors on our team, and I feel bad that we couldn’t win this for them and get them to state. We just couldn’t finish it off.”
Beckman entered the seventh with a 10-9 deficit. But, with one out, leadoff man Luke Schieltz pulled a no-doubt home run to right field to put a charge in the Blazers.
“I felt good the whole at-bat,” Schieltz said. “The strike before that was right where I wanted it, and I knew if I got it again, it’d go.
“It felt amazing. That’s what you dream of as a kid, to hit one like that when you’re behind and give your team a chance to win. The emotions are hard right now. We put so much into this, and it’s hard not to come out of it with a win.”
Beckman wasn’t through after the Schieltz homer. With two outs, Nick Offerman hit a towering pop up in the infield that dropped for a hustle double. After Camanche intentionally walked cleanup man Owen Huehnergarth, Nate Offerman delivered his go-ahead single for an 11-10 lead.
“I hit it guru-high, so I knew it was going to be a tough one to catch,” Nick Offerman said. “With two outs, I figured, ‘Why not go all-out? Just run as hard as you can and see if you can get to second.’ About half-way to second, I saw it drop so I coasted the rest of the way. It gave us a chance to win it.”
Beckman’s Logan Burchard, who started the game on the mound but lasted only two-plus innings, came back on in relief to close it, and retired the first two batters of the seventh before hitting leadoff man Tucker Dickherber with a pitch.
Dickherber moved up on a wild pitch and scored the trying run when Kyle DeWeerdt reached on an error. Mike Delzell ended it with an RBI single up the middle.
The top of the order put the Indians in a position to win the game just an inning earlier.
Dickherber singled and Delzell walked to load the bases. Cleanup man Mason Byrns followed with a towering grand slam to left field to put the Indians ahead, 10-9.
“Coming into this, we knew it was going to be a good game,” Nick Offerman said. “We knew we were going to have to hit and field, and we really battled them. I’m proud of the way this team battled. At the end of the day, we just had too many mistakes that cost us runs, which cost us the game in the end.
“The momentum just kept going back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Usually in a game, one team gets the momentum and runs with it. But this game, it felt like whoever batted last was going to win it.”
Beckman threatened in the top of the first, when Nick Schmidt coaxed a one-out walk and Huehnergarth drew a two-out free pass. But Camanche starter Garrett Schultz got Nate Offerman to ground out to third to end the threat.
Camanche opened the scoring in the bottom half with an unearned run against Burchard. Dickherber opened the frame by reaching on a two-base throwing error and scored one out later when Delzell stroked an opposite-field double to the fence in left-centerfield.
Two innings later, Camanche struck again.
No. 9 hitter Logan Shaw drew a lead off walk and stole second before coming home on Dickherber’s solid base hit up the middle. Dickherber followed suit by stealing second and scoring on another base hit back through the box by DeWeerdt.
That chased Burchard in favor of reliever Nick Offerman.
Delzell walked before Byrns laced a two-run double to right-centerfield to stretch the lead to 5-0. Huehnergarth cut down Byrns trying to take third on the throw to the infield for the first out, but Brayden Lodge followed with another double to prompt Beckman coach Fred Martin to bring in another reliever, Cam Krapfl, who walked Zach Erwin before yielding to Nick Schmidt.
Schmidt threw just two pitches and got two comebackers to get the Blazers out of the jam. Camanche batted around and scored four times on four hits and three walks.
Hitless through three innings, Beckman finally got to Schultz in the fourth. Huehnergarth drew his second walk to lead off the inning, and he scored from first when Nate Offerman drilled an opposite-field double to the right-centerfield fence to chase Schultz in favor of Irwin. Jackson Oberbroeckling reached on an error, and Bryce Boekholder pasted a double to right to pull Beckman within 5-2. After Burchard walked, No. 9 hitter Luke Sigwarth delivered a two-run single the opposite way to left-center to get Beckman within 5-4. Schieltz walked to load the bases and chase Irwin in favor of Byrns.
Schmidt walked to force in a run and tie it, and Beckman took the lead, 6-5, when Sigwarth scored on a wild pitch.
Nate Offerman added an RBI sacrifice fly to right to give Beckman a two-run cushion, and another run scored on a wild pitch. Beckman sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth and scored eight times on just three hits and six walks.
Camanche answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Dickherber and DeWeerdt singled, and a run scored when Delzell reached on an error. But right-fielder Schieltz gunned down DeWeerdt at the plate with a perfect throw following a Byrns single.
In the sixth, Schmidt reached on an error and later came around on a Nate Offerman base hit to right to extend Beckman’s lead to 9-6.
“I’ve never seen a game like this,” Beckman coach Fred Martin said. “I don’t even know how many pitching changes and re-enters we did tonight. I think five? And they did the same thing. How many times have you seen that in a substate final?
“After the first couple of innings, I knew both teams were going to make contact in this game. I was just hoping they’d hit it at us. It was a lively game with all the contact. We never gave up, though, and I’m proud of the guys for that.”