GRUNDY CENTER - BCLUW's Zach Cashin learned too late that a first-pitch strike was the only way to go against Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
The junior right-hander walked leadoff batter Logan Petersen, fell behind Parker Bolt 2-0 and then surrendered an RBI double on the next pitch. Cashin retired the next three Rebel batters in order, but not before Bolt scored on a Padraic McLean groundout for a 2-0 G-R lead.
That was all the support Austyn Smith needed.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck's side-armed gunslinger limited NICL West Division foe BCLUW to just three hits and four total walks, tossing a complete-game shutout as the Rebels recorded a 4-0 victory in Saturday's Class 2A District 9 quarterfinal.
G-R (19-6) will face Hudson (22-8) for the third time this season, playing the rubber match against the Pirates in Tuesday's 7 p.m. district semifinal back in Grundy Center.
Smith (6-1) struck out seven and allowed only two Comets to advance as far as third base, stranding eight BCLUW baserunners to complete the three-game sweep of a conference rival.
The shutout was Smith's first of the season and G-R's second against BCLUW this summer.
"Austyn did a great job tonight," commended Rebel head coach Jeff Charley, whose squad scored its 11th straight victory. "Four runs in our conference is not enough, heck we've given up four in an inning, but tonight it was enough."
Cashin's double in the top of the first led to a first-and-third situation for the Comets (12-14), but Smith got out of the jam by striking out Chad Dolphin for the third out.
Robert Sharp and Joel Steckelberg pieced together singles for BCLUW in the sixth, but Smith got freshman Max Callaway looking to end the frame.
Aside from hitting three batters, including Comet leadoff batter Isaac Novak twice in the helmet, Smith delivered when the Rebels needed him to.
"We're winning ballgames, the kids are excited about it and they're getting it done," said Charley. "It wasn't pretty tonight, BCLUW's a good team and Zach threw a good ballgame for them. We popped him up a bunch tonight."
Cashin finished having allowed only six G-R hits, three earned runs and four walks with three strikeouts in going the distance.
Kyle Snider's two-out single, a walk to Nick Flamme and Petersen's grounder through the right side put the Rebels ahead 3-0 after two innings. A two-out walk to McLean in the fifth led to another Rebel run on Colton Puls' RBI single.
"Zach threw seven first-pitch strikes and he didn't let any of those batters reach base, he got all of them out," said BCLUW head coach Matt Zoske. "I think we gave them some stuff with plays we could have made, but the bottom line is that we had to score runs and we didn't do that."
McLean robbed BCLUW's Cole Thompson, the leading hitter in the conference, of a leadoff hit in the sixth with his sliding grab of a blooper to center field. The Comets got two hits later in the inning but G-R did not break.
Snider led the Rebels going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Brady Billerbeck, who blanked BCLUW in their first meeting this season, added a single before leaving the game with an apparent leg injury in the sixth.