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Spartans spoil Rebel rally Grundy Center beats rivals in district rematch

July 24, 2016
ROSS THEDE , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - The Spartans struggled through the regular season yet again, but their poise and perseverance in the playoffs has proven impeccable.

The Grundy Center baseball team survived an intense rematch with rival Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Saturday night, knocking off the host Rebels 11-8 in the Class 1A District 6 finals at Koch Field.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck, which eventually advanced to state last season after beating Grundy Center in the district finale in Traer, got the tying run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. But a baserunning blunder prevented the top of the Rebels' order from getting the chance to deliver, as Jake Mohlis was cut down trying to score from third base on a passed ball for the final out.

Article Photos

Grundy Center senior pitcher Austin Burroughs (12) exalts after tagging out Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Jake Mohlis for the final out of the Spartans’ 11-8 victory over the Rebels on Saturday night in Reinbeck. Mohlis was caught trying to score on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh.
Photo by Ross Thede

Spartan senior pitcher Austin Burroughs scrambled home after his delivery escaped catcher Jared Clapp, but Clapp's flip back to the plate was in plenty of time to get Mohlis for the game-ending play.

"Last year we played these guys in the same game and we had everyone coming back," said Burroughs. "The poise we had this year was a lot better, and seeing [G-R pitcher Joe] Smoldt again from earlier in the year we had confidence coming in. So we said just get up on them early, get on base and let's go."

Simply stated, the Spartans did exactly that.

Fact Box

Grundy Center 11, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 8

At Reinbeck

GC, 015, 103, 1, -, 11, 10, 2

G-R, 020, 042, 0, -, 8, 9, 2

Austin Burroughs and Jared Clapp; Joe Smoldt, Mason Skovgard and Josh Cooley. W-Burroughs (5-2). L-Smoldt (3-3). 2B-GC: Burroughs, Sawyer Bowen; G-R: Cooley 2, Skovgard. HR-G-R: Murphy (4). LOB-GC 10, G-R 7.

Grundy Center (10-21) is headed back to the substate finals for the second time in three years, where it will meet top-ranked Mason City Newman Catholic (31-5). The two teams will fight for a state tournament berth at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Hampton.

The Spartans will go into that game without their head coach, after Jason Burroughs was ejected in the top of the seventh inning. Batting with a two-run lead, Austin Burroughs went to the ground when he was hit by a pitch from Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore Mason Skovgard. It was the fifth batter Skovgard had hit in his relief stint, and Jason asked the home plate umpire if a warning was warranted.

After a brief discussion, Jason was restricted to the dugout by the umpire but couldn't hold his tongue on the way off the field, firing back with an expletive that prompted his ejection.

The first-year head coach felt remorse after the game, but left the field still feeling confident in his team.

"It was frustrating seeing five guys get hit and then when my starting pitcher goes down on his knees, that gets me a little worried," coach Burroughs said. "I should have just been the smarter of the two and let it be and let my athlete get on base and be done, but I guess I let the emotions run a little too high. That's the way it is, so I'll watch from the stands [on Tuesday].

"It was emotional for me, however I have full confidence in my coaches and I have full confidence in my players that they're mentally read. As far as them finishing the game, I knew that they were going to do it, regardless if I was sitting in there or not."

And they did, though it was as dramatic as the rest of the game. Austin issued a one-out walk to Mohlis, and Tyler Tscherter slapped a two-out double down the right-field line. G-R head coach Jeff Charley scolded Mohlis to return to third base after the ball returned to the infield, but a read-and-react situation got Mohlis moments later.

"He's aggressive and he read it and went, and it is what it is," Charley shrugged after the game.

With leadoff batter Alex Tscherter at the plate representing the tying run, the Rebels needed more than a wild pitch to even things up.

"I tell you what, I'm proud of my kids, they never gave up," Charley said. "We just couldn't get it done. We got just exactly what we were looking for too [in the seventh]. That's what's great about baseball, there's no clock and with one or two outs, just get up there and do your job and we did. We just ended it there."

Lost in the commotion of a crazy seventh inning was the previous six. Grundy Center struck first with Sawyer Bowen's seeing-eye single to drive in Jared Krausman in the top of the second inning. After Gladbrook-Reinbeck (20-8) answered with two runs of its own, with doubles by Josh Cooley and Skovgard leading the way.

The Spartans took the lead for good, however, in the top of the second, sending nine batters to the plate against Smoldt. Burroughs doubled, Jared Clapp, Braidan Buhrow and Krausman singled, and Bowen drove in three with a bases-clearing, two-out double to make it a 6-2 game.

Back-to-back walks to start the fourth chased Smoldt from the mound, and Austin Grimm's two-out blooper drove in Burroughs before Grant Weldon was cut down at the plate.

Cam Murphy's three-run home run highlighted a four-run fifth for the Rebels, bringing them within 7-6, but the Spartans refused to stop. Skovgard hit the first four batters in Grundy Center's lineup, a single by Krausman scored another and a walk to Cole Weber made it 10-6.

Cooley's two-run, two-out double drove in two more for the Rebels to cut the deficit in half, and Grundy Center scratched out an unearned run on Clapp's misplayed grounder two batters after his coach was ejected.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck set the stage for a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn't complete the rally.

"You dream of those moments, you always want the ball in the seventh inning," said Austin, who finished in the neighborhood of 145 pitches. "We had a passed ball at the end to get them out there, but obviously these are the moments you'll never forget."

Burroughs finished with six strikeouts and seven walks, allowing nine hits and eight earned runs. Smoldt took the loss, surrendering seven hits and seven earned runs in three innings. He walked four and struck out three. Skovgard walked two, hit five and struck out two in four innnigs, allowing three hits.

Krausman finished 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, while Bowen was 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. Bowen entered the game batting .104 for the year, but he was at the heart of the team's first three-game winning streak.

Cooley went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs in his prep finale, while Tyler Tscherter was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.



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