Fabulous Faber: Roland-Story senior is sensational in district title win over South Hamilton
After being cool and calm most of the night, Roland-Story pitcher Nolan Faber just couldn't contain his emotions any longer.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning during the Class 2A district championship game between the No. 1 Norsemen and rival South Hamilton, Faber was facing off against South Hamilton's Lane Swenson. Faber and his teammates had just gotten out of a jam with a double play after the first two Hawk batters reached safely when Swenson came up.
Faber wasted no time making sure his team advanced to Tuesday's substate finals. He struck out Swenson to cap an impressive 3-0 Roland-Story victory. As soon as the third strike was called Faber immediately turned to his dugout and unleashed a big celebratory yell.
"If you don't win you're not playing anymore," Faber said. "I just couldn't be happier for the team. This is one stepping stone in the goal to get to state and win it."
The last time South Hamilton was in Story City, the Hawks upset the Norsemen, 7-3. Faber threw four innings in that game, so he was out for some redemption Saturday night.
The Roland-Story ace held the Hawks to two hits and he struck out 10 batters with just two walks.
"He's amazing," Roland-Story catcher Matthew Phelan said. "He's hitting spots, throwing the curveball, switching up pitches and keeping it off their bat. It was a great night — he was pitching out of his mind."
Faber was in the zone most of the night. He struck out the side in the fifth inning and only allowed two base runners over the first six innings.
"I came in and did what I needed to do," Faber said. "I hit spots, threw hard and my curveball was there. I kept them on their toes."
When Faber wasn't overpowering South Hamilton hitters with his pitching, he was making plays at the plate and in the field.
Faber accounted for all three Roland-Story runs on offense. The first two came on a two-run home run off South Hamilton's Brock Galetich in the bottom of the third inning.
Steven Berends drew a leadoff walk in the Norsemen half of the third then Faber took a Galetich pitch over the fence in center field.
"I knew going into that at-bat he was struggling to find the zone a little bit and, going up 2-1 in the count, I knew he was going to give me a fastball," Faber said. "I told myself don't miss it and I didn't."
In the bottom of the fifth, Faber hit a one-out double to left field. He moved to third on a grounder from Ajay Twedt then scored on an infield single from Calvin Carew.
Faber also helped himself defensively in the bottom of the seventh.
South Hamilton got some momentum on him for the first time in the seventh when Tycin Barkema drew a leadoff walk and Carter Hewitt followed with a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. But in the next at-bat, Elijah Balderas hit a grounder up the middle that Faber was able to scoop up and fire to second.
Roland-Story not only got the out at second, but Balderas was easily thrown out at first for the double play to end the Hawks' slim comeback hopes.
"Nolan had gotten a lot of strikeouts, but he also got a lot of groundball outs," Roland-Story head coach Chris Hill said. "Having that ball bounce right back to him and being able to turn two was huge for us."
Hill was pleased with how focused Faber and his teammates were when South Hamilton was threatening in the seventh.
"That's definitely some pressure with no outs and they get the leadoff guys on," Hill said. "They really got things going, but we were able to stop the momentum. I was impressed with the composure of the team."
The victory was the 30th of the season for Roland-Story. The Norsemen take a 30-5 into Tuesday's 2A substate final in Mason City against New Hampton (18-15) at 7 p.m.
"Once you start postseason every single one of them is big," Hill said. "Every team is fighting to keep their season going. We're going the best that we can to move on."
South Hamilton finished its season with a 19-6 record. Galetich gave up six hits and had three strikeouts and one walk in six innings as the losing pitcher.
Roland-Story 3, South Hamilton 0
SH 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
RS 002 010 X — 3 6 0
WP: Nolan-Faber (RS).
LP: Brock Galetich (SH).
2B: RS — Faber, Thomas Matthes.
HR: RS — Faber.