GILMAN - Gladbrook-Reinbeck led with a strong hook and finished with a haymaker.
The Rebels knocked off East Marshall to continue an intriguing summer in the NICL West baseball race with a 10-3 victory Tuesday night on the road.
After a five-run lead had shrunk to two going into the final inning, G-R (10-8, 6-4) exploded for five runs in the top of the seventh to put the game on ice and bring the Mustangs (15-7, 8-2) back into a tie with West Marshall for the top spot in the conference.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Trevor Trunck slides safely into home in front of East Marshall pitcher Sam Benzing on Tuesday night in Gilman. The Rebels knocked off the Mustangs, 10-5, to hand East Marshall just its second NICL West loss of the season.
Photo by Travis Hines
"I thought if we could have held them to 5-3 going into the seventh," said East Marshall head coach Justin Frost, "I thought we had a chance.
"Once they had their big inning, I felt they'd done their knockout punch and took us out of it."
Singles from Brady Billerbeck, Austyn Smith and Jordan Rickert loaded the bases to start the seventh, and a well-executed bunt by Cobren Bird scored Billerbeck on a suicide squeeze.
Back-to-back walks with two outs and the bases loaded forced in a pair of runs and then a single from Joe Zimmerman and a Mustang error put the final two scores on the board.
East Marshall committed seven errors just 24 hours removed from a doubleheader sweep of South Tama to put the Mustangs alone on top of the NICL West.
"I don't think we really came to play too much and against a team like that if you don't, you're going to get beat," said Frost. "I told the kids, 'If you want to be successful, you better come ready to play everyday because if we don't, we're not that good, we're not that good just to show up.'"
Parker Bolt pitched all seven innings to pick up the win from the mound for the Rebels, who travel to South Tama on Tuesday.
The senior allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out eight to give G-R a season split with East Marshall.
Half of Bolt's strikeouts came in the final two frames.
"It just took me a while to get going, I guess, but once I got going I felt good," said Bolt, whose team sits two games out of first place in a jam-packed top of the standings.
The Mustangs are tied with West Marshall with two league losses apiece while STC has three and the Rebels four.
"We still have four losses in the conference, but this brings us closer to first place," Bolt added.
G-R struck first with a run-scoring single from Billerbeck in the first inning and then added four runs in the second, which was marred by a scary moment on the mound.
East Marshall starter Nick Long took a batted ball off the left side of the face that left him shaken for a number of minutes.
He was able to walk off the field without assistance, however, and the prognosis appears to be positive.
"We'll take precautionary measures and see how it goes, but it seems he'll be OK," said Frost.
Sam Benzing came on in relief and allowed eight hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The Mustangs were able to make things interesting in the middle innings when John Bloom and Josh Wilson found the plate after a wild pitch followed by an error on G-R.
Lance Steward, the No. 9 hitter, added a solo home run in the fourth, but that's all East Marshall could produce before G-R's seventh-inning eruption.
"Any time you can get on pitchers early, it's a big mental boost for us because we have been struggling at the plate," said G-R head coach Jeff Charley. "When we can start out on top like that and hit the ball hard, good things happen."
Bloom finished with three hits, including one double, on the night while Nick Mommer and Josh Wilson both drove in one run for the Mustangs, who host South Hardin on Thursday.
Billerbeck and Zimmerman both finished with three hits for G-R while Bolt drove in two runs, and both Cobren Bird and Austin Charley had a pair of hits and a RBI apiece for the Rebels, who have now won four of their last five conference contests to stay in the race for the title.
"A much-needed win," said Coach Charley. "We just really needed that boost."