Balderas exits stage as 1st team all-HOIC pick

Berg and Galetich on 2nd team, Balvanz and Lewis HM

Zeke Balderas (left) and Cade Balvanz (right) come together prior to the start of South Hamilton’s Class 2A district game against Roland-Story in Dike last month. Balderas was recently named to the all-Heart of Iowa Conference first team, while Balvanz was an honorable mention selection. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — South Hamilton’s first winning baseball season in more than a decade produced five all-Heart of Iowa Conference honors at season’s end.

Following an 11-9 campaign that included a 6-7 mark and fourth-place finish in the league, the Hawks collected one first-team accolade for senior pitcher and infielder Zeke Balderas. Senior pitcher and outfielder Cole Berg, as well as sophomore second baseman Brock Galetich were placed on the second team. Junior first baseman Cade Balvanz and senior outfielder Sam Lewis picked up honorable mention honors.

Conference co-champions North Polk and Gilbert combined for seven of the 13 spots on the first team. The Comets and Tigers both finished 13-1 in the HOIC; they split their two-game season series.

Balderas, the most lauded South Hamilton player during Kyle Galetich’s time as the program’s head coach, was the Hawks unquestioned leader, both at the plate and in the field.

With a bat in his hands, Balderas cranked out a .418 average with one home run and 18 RBIs, all of which topped the squad. He was also the team leader in doubles (9) and slugging percentage (.636), and was third in hits (23).

Balderas once again served as the ace of the South Hamilton pitching staff. He went 5-4 with a 1.84 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 491⁄3 innings on the bump.

Berg was the No. 2 pitcher on staff, as the right-hander put together a 1-2 record and 3.29 ERA in 272⁄3 innings of work. He fanned 41 batters.

At the plate, Berg put up a .382 average and led the team in hits with 26 and runs scored with 18. He also drove in 13 runs.

Brock Galetich was second on the team in batting average (.407) and hits (24). He also collected 10 RBIs.

Balvanz, who manned first base and didn’t make a defensive error all season, had a .286 batting average with 18 hits and seven RBIs.

Lewis played in just four games before he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the duration of the summer. However, there’s no doubt that he would have been one of the team’s catalysts, particularly on offense. In his shortened season, he went 8 for 10 (.800) at the plate and four of his hits went for extra bases. He also had four RBIs.

Just weeks after knee surgery, Lewis returned to the starting lineup for one final at bat against Gilbert on Senior Night. Right on cue, he tagged the ball and sent it into the gap in left-center. Not allowed to run, he hobbled to first base and drove in a run that scored all the way from first.

All-HOIC Teams

First Team

Pitcher — Clark Hood, jr, North Polk; Easton Johnson, soph, Gilbert.

Catcher — Mitchell Johnson, sr, Gilbert.

Infield — Jeff Lamp, sr, North Polk; Sage Burns, soph, PCM; Nick Chasey, soph, Gilbert; Reed Worth, sr, PCM.

Outfield — Austin Pyles, jr, Saydel; Austin Delp, sr, Greene County; Colten Parkins, sr, North Polk.

Utility — Zeke Balderas, sr, South Hamilton; Preston Van Wyk, sr, PCM; Joe Husak, soph, North Polk.

Second Team

Pitcher — Derek Brown, jr, PCM; Jared Jensen, sr, Gilbert.

Catcher — Jack Borts, sr, Gilbert.

Infield — Brock Galetich, soph, South Hamilton; Ryan Fausch, jr, North Polk; Matt Barragy, sr, Gilbert; Mark Cox, jr, North Polk.

Outfield — Olin Meinders, sr, PCM; Thomas Crawford, sr, Nevada; Ben Simondynes, sr, Gilbert.

Utility — Cole Berg, sr, South Hamilton; Nick Stole, sr, Roland-Story; Zach Bobenhouse, fr, Saydel.

Honorable Mention

South Hamilton — Sam Lewis, sr; Cade Balvanz, jr.

North Polk — San Kvidera, sr; Logan Engebretson, jr.

Saydel — Cash Lee, sr; Cal Gebhart, jr.

Gilbert — Jack Shedarowich, fr; Gage Christenson, sr.

Greene County — Joe Anderson, sr; Brent Riley, jr.

Roland-Story — Nolan Faber, soph; Jayden MacDonald, jr.

Nevada — Keaton Fry, jr; Dylan Sporrer, sr.

PCM — Dane Owens, jr; Brayton Van Dyke, sr.