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Rebels band together for last trophy

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s sports year ends in baseball defeat

August 2, 2015
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

DES MOINES - Even after a promising start went awry, Gladbrook-Reinbeck was dead-set in going out on its own terms.

And while a victory steadily looked more improbable, the Rebels wanted to play together as long as they could.

Stringing together four runs in the top of the fifth, Gladbrook-Reinbeck extended their season momentarily but couldn't keep up with Newman Catholic's overwhelming offense in a 14-4 six-inning loss Friday in a Class 1A quarterfinal of the Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament.

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Jeff Tscherter (1) and Logan Flamme (24) accept the Rebels’ participant trophy Friday in the Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines. Top-ranked Newman Catholic won 14-4 in six innings to end the Rebels’ season at 17-12.
Photo by Tyler Strand

The top-ranked Knights (37-4) racked up 16 hits and seven for extra bases en route to their eighth straight semifinal appearance. Joey Verstegen struck out six and scattered four hits in five scoreless innings to earn the defending state runners-up a rematch with last year's champion Martsendale-St. Marys (34-5) on Thursday.

G-R's first two batters reached base and they eventually loaded them, before Newman Catholic shut things down to stop any early momentum for the Rebels (17-12).

"Those are the things we need to execute on if we want to come down and win a game here, but I'm just really proud of our guys," Camden Kickbush said. "We're just glad we made it here and got to play one more game with the fellas."

The Knights quickly pounced with three runs in the first, two in the second and three more in the third. The four-time state champions pushed across four more runs in the fourth to go up 12-0 and put G-R's season on the brink in the fifth. The Rebels responded against relief pitcher Evan Paulus to stretch the game another inning. Brady Kuehl and Kickbush drew back-to-back walks and Phillip Zimmerman singled to load the bases. The bases cleared on Josh Cooley's fielder's choice as a mishandled throw at second bounced into the outfield. Bryce Ehlers roped an RBI triple to right-center field to score Cooley and bring G-R within eight.

"We just wanted to play as long as we could," said Kickbush on extending the game. "I knew maybe not a chance to win it but to play a little longer with these guys, that's what we're after."

Verstegen tripled and scored on Parker Dondlinger's single in the bottom of the fifth to stretch the margin to 13-4. Verstegen moved from third back to the mound to limit G-R in the sixth before the Knights' bats clinched the win. Josh Fitzgerald clubbed a lead-off double and Fitzgerald connected for a two-out walk-off hit that bounced just out of Zach Pierce's reach on a diving attempt in left.

Peyton Scott finished 4-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored, while Verstegen finished a homer short of the cycle with three hits and two RBIs. Fitzgerald plated three runs on two hits and reached home four times.

G-R's early opportunity to apply pressure on the top-seeded squad slipped away. Kickbush hit an infield single, Logan Flamme drew a walk and Joe Smoldt loaded the bases with a two-out walk before Verstegen induced Ehlers to pop out.

"Obviously it was big," Knights coach Tony Adams said of escaping the first unscathed. "They get a couple runs, get a little momentum going and then we if don't get out of that inning and we don't answer right away, it could have changed the ball game a little bit."

Verstegen smacked a two-run double off the left field wall and Spencer Wilhm added a sacrifice fly to right as Newman Catholic sent eight batters to the plate in the first. Two walks and a single filled the bases again in the second to set up Bryce Ball's two-run double over Zimmerman in center. A single and an error preceded Fitzgerald's two-run triple down the right-field line in the third and Blake Forthmann's RBI groundout built the cushion to 8-0.

Wilhm's run-scoring single kept things going in the fifth, Fitzgerald drove in another on a fielder's choice and Scott sprayed a two-run triple to center to give the Knights their largest lead.

"I think (Kickbush) was tired, he threw the other night so I think that was an advantage for us that he had to throw after just a couple days off," Adams said. "Typically we don't chase a lot of bad pitches and get ourselves into bad counts and we were real good about that today."

G-R coach Jeff Charley said Kickbush (5-5) hit his spots well but Newman Catholic's bats often had an answer. Kickbush allowed 13 earned runs on 16 hits with three strikeouts and four walks in 5 2/3 innings and was one of seven seniors to conclude their G-R career Friday.

"They care so much about everything," sophomore shortstop Joe Smoldt said. "If someone's getting out of hand, they're right there to lift them up. They're just leaders and they're winners too."

Charley stayed a bit longer with his team in locker room following the game, commending them on a relentless effort that typified their slow-starting season.

"I just told them I was really proud. We came out here and we started and got bases loaded and made some things happen, we just couldn't get it around and they didn't give up," Charley said. "I don't think we're the kind of team that deserved to get beat like that, getting shutout in this kind of a game. So that was a big boost for us to extend it. I was really proud of them, they didn't hang their heads, they got on base and they made things happen."


Fifth-ranked Martensdale-St. Marys defeated No. 6 Coon Rapids-Bayard 8-1 in the other quarterfinal.



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