WILTON — Tyler Howe was one of the best players in Northeast High School baseball history. But, the former NCAA Division I and minor league player never experienced the joy of winning a district baseball title.
In his first year back as head coach of the Rebels, his players showed him how good it feels.
“It’s a lot of fun to be a part of,” he said.
“I’m on top of the world right now,” Northeast senior Cole Dickey said after pitching his second consecutive complete game in the postseason, a 3-1 victory against host Wilton on Saturday that gave the Rebels the Class 2A District 10 championship. “It’s a great feeling.”
The victory set up a 7 p.m. matchup Tuesday against Mount Vernon in Solon in the Substate 5 final for a berth in the Iowa state tournament.
“Obviously our goals keep going, but this is the first ever district title in school history and shows how hard these guys have worked for quite a few months now,” Howe said. “They just want to work and get better, and it’s paying off on the field.”
So did his decision to put Dickey back on the mound after he blanked Durant-Bennett for six innings last Tuesday before holding on for a 5-4 win.
“I felt good,” Dickey said. “I was just happy coach had confidence in me and sent me back out again.”
Dickey and Howe both said the pitcher was even stronger against Wilton. He limited the Beavers (28-10) to three hits and one run, walking one batter and striking out six in a matchup with Wilton ace Cole Crawford. Crawford entered with a 12-1 record and 0.69 ERA, numbers similar to Durant’s Justin Shaffer (12-1, 0.49), whom the Rebels tagged for three runs Tuesday.
“We’ve faced two of the most premier pitchers in the state of Iowa the last two games,” Howe said. “It’s two very impressive victories, and hopefully that will help us carry on to the next step.”