GRUNDY CENTER - There are a host of adjectives to describe East Marshall's defense Saturday night against Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
Crisp. Clean. Flawless. Smooth.
Take your pick.
And after the work put in against the Rebels, there's a new way to describe the Mustangs: Class 2A District 9 champions.
East Marshall kept G-R off the board with stellar play behind starter Dakotah Wolken in a 3-0 victory at the George F. Wilhelm Sports Complex to earn a spot in Tuesday's substate contest.
The win was the first for the Mustangs (25-10) over their fellow NICL West competitor G-R (20-7) in three tries this season and earns them a rematch with Gilbert, which defeated No. 4 Fort Dodge St. Edmond in its district final, at Iowa Falls-Alden High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Wolken went the distance on the bump for East Marshall, striking out four and relying on a defense that turned a pair of double plays and was generally superb.
"They played amazing. Everything to them," said Wolken of his defense. "They played great."
Brady Billerbeck was touched for seven hits and three earned runs, going all six innings for the Rebels.
East Marshall got on the board with a pair of runs in the first inning thanks to back-to-back-to-back singles by John Bloom, Luke Wilson and Kyle Blocker, who had a pair of hits on the night, and a wild pitch from Billerbeck.
"It sets the tempo early," East Marshall head coach Denny Allen said of the quick start.
G-R wasn't without scoring chances, but the Mustangs defense was there to stifle every attempt.
Tanner Hulst started the fifth inning with a shot to the fence, but was cutdown trying to stretch it into a triple with a well-executed 8-6-5 relay.
"I send him 100 times out of 100 times. That was just a great play. That was a great, heads-up play," said Rebels head coach Jeff Charley.
The Rebels had perhaps their best chance to cross home in the sixth after Parker Bolt's single and a pitch hit Billerbeck to kick off the frame.
Kyle Snider looked to have moved both runners up with his bunt to Wolken, but Bolt blew past third and made a beeline for home, where he was met with a tag from East Marshall catcher Jake Kuesel to end the inning of the Mustangs' second double play of the night.
"We had a lot of key plays. The kids made the plays when they needed to," said Allen.
The Mustangs added a third run in the home half of the sixth when the NICL West's Most Outstanding Player, Jordan Bowers, slipped a single through the hole to plate Josh Wilson, who had reached on a walk.
Wolken sat down the Rebels in order in the seventh to avenge 7-4 and 4-1 losses the Mustangs had suffered during the conference season.
"You get nervous on that any time it happens," Charley commented on playing a team a third time. "Both times we played them earlier in the season, they were both great ballgames. They're all one hit away from going either way during the season.
"They scared us ... and they just capitalized. They just played well defensively."
East Marshall will now get another crack at Gilbert, which downed the Mustangs, 6-2, in the first week of the season. The Tigers defeated St. Edmond, 2-1, Saturday.
The Mustangs are now the owners of an 11-game winning streak. The victor of the East Marshall/Gilbert tilt will advance to play at Des Moines' Principal Park in the state tournament, which begins Friday.