ALLEMAN - Waiting 26 days between wins will humble any team, but it didn't break South Hamilton.
And when the Hawks needed to win, they did.
Putting a nine-game losing skid in the rearview mirror, South Hamilton made the most of its fresh start in the postseason here Saturday night. The Hawks scored three runs in the third inning and never trailed in a 4-2 victory over Colfax-Mingo in a Class 2A District 14 quarterfinal-round contest.
It was their first win since a 10-5 triumph over Roland-Story back on June 11.
"The whole mentality towards the game was a complete 180 from the last two weeks," South Hamilton head coach Bret Bell said. "We just needed to play pitch to pitch, out to out, inning to inning, and we did that."
Sophomore Devin Howard produced the game-changing blast - a second-inning two-run home run to left-center field. It came after Cole Swenson delivered an RBI groundout earlier in the frame that put South Hamilton (9-15) in front for good.
Colfax-Mingo000 002 0-2 8 4
South Hamilton030 010 x-4 10 2
Tyler Annis and Austin Yoakum. Lane Heinlein and Lucas Olson. W-Heinlein. L-Annis. HR-SH: Devin Howard. RBI-SH: Howard (2), John Hegland, Cole Swenson.
John Hegland added an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth.
The Hawks racked up 10 hits off Colfax-Mingo pitcher Tyler Annis. Trevor Ullestad went 3-for-3, and Hegland was 2-for-2. Justin Shepherd, Chris Jacobson, Lane Heinlein and Jordan Sogard all added singles.
The Tigerhawks (15-17) cut its deficit to 4-2 in the sixth inning, but Heinlein closed the door in the seventh for the complete-game win on the bump. Heinlein allowed eight hits and two walks, and he fanned two.
Bell said Heinlein was strong on the mound, but the right-hander also got plenty of help from his defense.
"Lane threw a great game, but he let the defense do the work," Bell said. "Justin Shepherd made one of the best plays I've ever seen him make up the middle to get a double play, and it was just great to see us make those plays."
The win pushed South Hamilton into Tuesday's district semifinal against third-ranked North Polk on the Comets' home diamond in Alleman at 7 p.m.
North Polk (26-4) swept a pair of regular season games from the Hawks, but Bell says he and his players aren't ready to concede anything.
"I told the guys after (Saturday's) game that if you're going to be intimidated when you're in the batter's box, then I'll find somebody else to put in there," Bell said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we can win this game."
South Hamilton could face North Polk ace pitcher Jacob Hadaway, a junior who hasn't allowed an earned run in 47 innings of work this season. He's 7-0 with 80 strikeouts; opponents are batting just .070 against him.