Pirates clip Rebels 3-2 in district finals
TRAER — At this time of the baseball season, there generally aren’t any bad teams left in the mix, and that was definitely on display Saturday night at J.L Lister Field as Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Hudson met up to play in the Class 1A District 6 baseball tournament finals.
Both teams played their hearts out for a chance to represent their district in substate next week, but in the end the Pirates came out victorious, winning 3-2 over the Rebels.
With the game tied at two heading into the seventh inning, Hudson was able to get their first batter on base due to a passed ball on a third strike, and the Pirates took advantage of the opportunity by bringing in senior John Colsch with a bunt, a ground out and a sacrifice fly to score the eventual game-winning run.
After the game, G-R head coach Scott Kiburis said his team shouldn’t be ashamed of their effort.
“We pitched so well, we only gave up four hits, and what ended up beating us was a third strike wild pitch,” Kiburis said. “That’s fitting, it was a curveball out of the strike zone and we didn’t make a bad play on it, he just swung at the wrong pitch for us to get out of there. They laid down two bunts and they played good fundamental baseball.”
Both pitchers performed well on the mound, with Rebels (15-9) freshman Tyler Tscherter going six innings while giving up only four hits and three runs and striking out seven and Pirates (17-16) junior CJ Christopher giving up five hits and two runs while striking out four in seven full innings of work.
G-R had a chance to take the lead in the sixth inning after Tscherter and senior Joe Smoldt both reached base off a hit and a walk respectively, but, unfortunately for the Rebels faithful, the next three batters couldn’t capitalize off a golden opportunity.
“We got our two runs, we had runners on first and second in that sixth inning with our four and five hitter coming up but we weren’t able to move them over and get a run,” Kiburis said. “It was a well-played, close game and I thought their pitcher CJ Christopher did a great job. “
The game was scoreless through the first three innings, but Hudson drew first blood with two runs in the fourth as Colsch brought in Alex Hageman and Christopher with a two-RBI single. G-R responded quickly, however, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth, with Smoldt bringing in Tscherter with an RBI triple and Kyle Koppen scoring Smoldt with a ground out RBI.
Kiburis said Tscherter performing like he did on Saturday night after a no-hitter from Smoldt on Thursday just proves that pitching was the real star of Rebels baseball this season.
“Tyler might have played more baseball than any other kid in our program, he plays a lot of spring baseball with traveling teams and he really understands the game,” Kiburis said. “He pitched quite a bit last year as an eighth-grader and he is our guy. If we reverse this game and get the win by one Joe comes back on Tuesday. We had two quality No. 1 starters, just one was a freshman and one’s a senior, and Kyle Koppen coming in as well. Our pitching has been the strength of our team this year and they again showed that today.”
Now that the season is over for G-R baseball, the Rebels say goodbye to a strong senior class that experienced quite a bit of success. They won two-straight football state titles and have made the last three state finals, made the state basketball tournament three straight years including a state title in 2015, appeared in three straight soccer state tournaments from 2014-2016, and made a state baseball tournament appearance last season.
Kiburis said it will be tough to lose the likes of Smoldt, Alex Tscherter and Matt Roeding, but he suspects all of them will experience success in their future endeavors.
“They aren’t used to losing and they love playing games like this. Joe throws a no-hitter on Thursday and it’s no big deal, everyone just walks out and shake their hands, that’s just the mentality of the guys and that’s what I want to remember,” Kiburis said of his seniors. “They never get too high and they never get too low. They want to win and they are competitive as anyone and they do what I ask them to do. They will all go on and do great things in college and forget about this loss in a couple of days. The fact they enjoyed their senior year in all sports and finishing out in baseball was great.”
It’s up to a talented group of young players to carry on the legacy of this senior class and the seniors before them, but Kiburis said the upcoming athletes should be up to that challenge.
“We just want to try to carry that on, learn from the kids above us,” he said. “We had an eighth-grader playing out there starting in center field who had a great year and some young freshmen and sophomores, they just kind of want follow in that. It’s all in the mentality, you come to practice to practice. You practice hard and you come to the games and do what the coaches ask you. That’s what these kids do and they play hard and try to play smart. Hopefully they learn to always show up to stuff. We are going to compete hard in all our sports and hopefully that’s what they learn from this senior class.”
Hudson 3, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 2
Hudson 000 200 1 — 3 4 1
G-R 000 200 0 — 2 6 1
CJ Christopher and Izik Rodriguez; Tyler Tscherter, Kyle Koppen (7) and Walker Thede. W–Christopher (4-4). L–Tscherter (5-3). 2B–HUD: Alex Hageman. 3B–G-R: Joe Smoldt. LOB–G-R 5, HUD 3.