GRUNDY CENTER - Any stigma the Rebels had about facing Jordan Clapp fell to the wayside with the first batter he faced.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck greeted Grundy Center's ace with Austyn Smith's go-ahead, RBI double in the fifth inning and the Rebels went on to eliminate the Spartans 15-5 in six innings in Thursday's Class 1A District 11 baseball semifinal at the George F. Wilhelm Sports Complex.
Clapp tossed a four-hitter during the two neighboring NICL West Division rivals' first meeting in the regular season, a 2-1 Grundy Center victory driven by Clapp's nine strikeouts. The Rebels got revenge the second time around, and then on Thursday won the rubber match that proved to matter the most.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (17-11), on the strength of its fifth straight win, advanced to Saturday's district finals in Grundy Center against a North Tama team that edged Don Bosco, 1-0.
"It took us a while to get going," said G-R head coach Jeff Charley. "Boy I tell you, we were down 5-0 and you start to wonder what's going to happen."
Grundy Center (7-19) scored four times off Parker Bolt in the second inning, tacked on another run in the third and led 5-0 before the Rebels got on the board. Once they did, there was no let-up.
G-R scored four times in the fourth, three in the fifth and eight to finish off the game in the sixth.
Bolt ended up going the distance, allowing eight hits and three hit batsman while striking out eight. He also ended the game with a two-run double to reach the 10-run limit.
Brady Billerbeck hit a solo homer to tie the game at 5-all in the fifth, and Clapp came on after Elliott Eggleston surrendered a walk and a single. Smith then laced an RBI double to erase the Spartans' five-run lead and spark the Rebel comeback.
Jordan Rickert finished 3-for-3 with three runs scored to lead the Rebels offensively. Bolt was 2-for-5, Cobren Bird was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Trevor Trunck was 2-for-4 with a bases-clearing double that got G-R within 5-4 in the fourth.
Austin Charley added a two-run single in the sixth and Joe Zimmerman added a hit for the Rebels, who last won a district title in 2009.
Riley Wells led Grundy Center offensively, going 2-for-3 with a double. Bryce Moats and Eggleston both went 2-for-3 as well, while Tyler Harken and Grant Weldon had one hit apiece.