ST. PAUL — It was a long time coming for the David City Post 125 Junior Legion baseball team and head coach Steve Rerucha.
David City brought home a Legion state championship for the first time in 66 years after defeating Creighton 6-5 on Wednesday in the final game of the Class C tournament in St. Paul.
Daniel Stara came through with the game-winning hit as David City walked off with the championship.
With the game tied at 5-all in the bottom of the seventh inning, Creighton intentionally walked Joseph Reimers and Simon Krenk to load the bases and get to Stara in the No. 5 spot.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't see it coming, because I was not hitting well the past few games," Stara said.
There were nerves as he approached the plate, but his mind quickly focused on the task at hand.
"I was shaking and it was actually the first time I was shaking at bat, but I kept thinking we got a fast guy on third who always got it done throughout the season. And I thought if I hit the ball hard into the outfield hopefully we could get a run in," Stara added.
The David City catcher did just that by hitting a line drive into the gap in right-center field, bringing in Andy Lyons for the winning run.
“I'm thankful to have great teammates that can always get it done,” Stara said. “Everybody is doing their best out there. It’s tough with the state championship on the line making those plays for anybody, so I just thought if we kept up for this last inning we would have a chance because it was still a tied ballgame.”
The walk-off hit gave Rerucha the first state title of his coaching career.
Rerucha, who has coached the David City Junior and Senior Legion teams for nearly 20 years, said the win is one he'll never forget.
“They just did a really nice job and I’m happy for the kids and the parents,” he said. “It’s something they always can remember. When you’re 75 years old in a rocking chair, you’ll remember back to when you were 16, 17, 18 years old and playing the game.”
The championship didn't come easily for David City, which entered Wednesday's games with a perfect 4-0 record at the double-elimination tournament.
Creighton defeated David City 4-3 earlier in the day to force the winner-take-all final game.
Creighton jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning before David City tied it up on a sacrifice fly by Konner Adamy.
The two squads exchanged a pair of runs in the fourth frame to tie the game at 3-all. Reimers drove in the David City runs on a one-out triple.
Creighton scored the game-winning run in the fifth inning following a David City error and RBI single by Levi Stacken.
Rerucha had to regroup his players after the loss.
“We talked about going out and having fun, but I could tell just by the tempo of kids coming into the dugout and kind of hanging their heads a little bit that they just weren’t where they needed to be,” he said. “I think we pressed. I think the kids had a little bit of nervousness. In both games we made some errors that we just normally don’t make.”
In the second game, David City took an early 5-1 lead before Creighton mounted its comeback.
Creighton scored three runs in a four-hit sixth inning before tying the game in the top of the seventh to set up Stara's heroics.
Reimers also had a big game for David City at the plate, falling a double short of the cycle. He tallied a single in the first inning, home run in the third and triple in the fifth.
Jackson Jakub picked up the win on the mound for David City after relieving Lyons in the sixth inning.
David City won its only other Legion state title in 1951, defeating Barneston in Class B.