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Malcolm wins second consecutive state title in come-from-behind thriller


Two outs. Bottom of the last inning. At the plate with the winning run in scoring position.

“It’s a moment every kid dreams of their whole life,” Malcolm left fielder Noah Gonyea said. “Especially in the state championship.”

That backyard dream became reality for Gonyea in the May 17 Class C state title game at Werner Park.

Through six-and-two-thirds innings, Malcolm batters had been flummoxed by Mount Michael starting pitcher, Ashton Schroder. The senior southpaw put six zeroes on the scoreboard while stranding nine baserunners before reaching his pitch count max.

With the Knights leading 2-0 and one out away from a state championship upset, relief pitcher Barrett Sykora walked Mason Wisnieski. The junior then swiped second base before scoring on a Luke Schmidt single up the middle.

Schmidt’s courtesy runner, Cole Tiedeman, tied the game when a blooper off the bat of Carson Frank landed in left field just outside the glove of Thaden Wewel. Garrett England was hit by the next pitch which moved Frank into scoring position.

Because of a hitting slump, a designated hitter had been used for Gonyea most of April and May. But, when the DH failed to produce in his first two at bats, Gonyea got his chance. In just his second plate appearance at state, the senior stepped into the box and drove the first pitch he saw deep into the left field gap.

Frank rounded third and dove across home plate while the rest of the Clippers chased down and dogpiled Gonyea in celebration of a improbable 3-2 win and back-to-back state championships.

“When two outs hit, our approach as a team was to just stay alive and get the next guy up,” Gonyea said. “My time came and I stayed confident, cleared my head and let my instincts do the work.”

“We joked all season that we score all of our runs with two outs and the pressure on,” Malcolm head coach Zach Wehner said. “Our DH was a little off balance, so we decided to give Noah a shot. He did an amazing job staying composed with the pressure on.”

Not a bad way to go out for a senior who is opting not to play his final season of summer American Legion baseball.

“This is it for me for baseball,” Gonyea said. “This is one I’ll never forget.”

That Malcolm was still within striking distance at the end is due in large part to the pitching of Maddox Meyer. The UNO commit pitched a complete game five-hitter, while fanning nine Mount Michael batters. The ace allowed just two runs in 15 innings in the tournament while striking out 22 batters. He finished his senior campaign with a 9-0 record.

“After hitting the game’s first batter, Maddox was able to shake it off and pitch his game,” Wehner said. “He knew one run wasn’t going to win this game and he just needed to truck on. It takes a lot to rattle him.”

Malcolm opened the tournament with an 8-2 win over Wayne and advanced  through the bracket with back-to-back victories, 7-0 and 4-2, over a Central City/Centura team that beat Malcolm during the regular season.

Malcolm finished with a 23-3 record. Since the summer of 2022, the boys from Malcolm are 6-0 in state championship games with two state titles each in Junior Legion, Senior Legion and high school baseball.