Trojans keep rolling
West Marshall takes down Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Senior Night
STATE CENTER — The West Marshall baseball squad solidified its spot as the top team in the NICL West Division with a win over East Marshall on Monday night, but clearly the Trojans haven’t lost their appetite for winning as West Marshall rolled to a seventh-straight victory Friday by defeating Gladbrook-Reinbeck 11-5.
Before this recent string of victories, Trojans head coach Jerod Brown said his guys were getting a little complacent with their success, and he wants them to play up to the expectations they have no matter who they face.
“We need to play to a standard, play to the highest level that is possible for us,” Brown said after the win. “We played a couple games at that level this week, on Thursday we played really well against Roland-Story, we played well against South Hamilton on Tuesday and played well against East Marshall on Monday. Tonight our offense was good but our defense and pitching could have been better.”
As Brown said, the offense was rolling for West Marshall (24-5, 11-0) on Friday night. After a slow start in the first inning, the Trojans exploded in the second, knocking in six runs off five hits in the inning and taking advantage of the opportunities the Rebels afforded them.
“To start the night and throughout the game we had a really good approach at the plate,” Brown said. “(G-R starting pitcher) Tyler Tscherter is a really good pitcher so we were trying to make him throw a decent amount of pitches and get deeper into some counts. We didn’t expand the strike zone and we got pitches to hit and took advantage of them. It was a good night at the plate and a great week overall for us.”
West Marshall had a young gun of their own start the game on the mound, with sophomore Cameron Bannister toeing the rubber in the early going. Bannister recorded five strikeouts in the first two innings, but after only allowing two baserunners through three innings the Rebels got to him for three runs in the fourth.
Brown said Bannister struggled a bit on the mound for the Trojans, but the defense committing six errors throughout the night didn’t help much either.
“I think we made him get too many outs,” Brown said of his sophomore slinger. “It wasn’t his sharpest game, he got into some long counts which he usually doesn’t do, but that being said we need to do a better job helping our pitcher out.”
Junior Alex Dickey finished the game on the mound for West Marshall, only giving up two hits and one run in the final three frames.
Friday was also senior night for West Marshall, and the four seniors on the team played accordingly, knocking in six total RBIs and combining for seven hits.
Chandler Sponseller led the way for the senior group, going 3-for-4 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored. After the game, he said he was just doing his part in trying to help the team win.
“I was just trying to do whatever it took to help our team and get the W,” Sponseller said. “I came up with some big moments today and my teammates were able to move me around when I got on base. It was just a really good team effort.”
Sponseller, Ross Randall and David Disney each have played five seasons with the Trojans, with Cody Mead joining the squad his sophomore year. Sponseller said his time with West Marshall baseball has been extremely memorable, and he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“It has been a great five seasons,” he said. “Ross, David and I got called up so we have been here for five seasons and Cody came here our sophomore year so he has been here for three. It has been a great last couple years and pretty much all of my favorite memories from high school will be from baseball.”
As for what these seniors have meant to the team, Brown said everything they have accomplished this season all stems from the work those four have put in during their time as Trojans.
“The seniors have really been the driving force for our program this season,” Brown said. “Starting back in January when we started our offseason work through now, they have really set the tone for everybody and the rest of the team has followed them. Any success that we have this season is really due to our seniors, not just in the work they have done this year but the work they have put in through their entire careers. They are outstanding young men and they mean a lot to our program.”
While they found themselves on the losing end Friday night, G-R (12-7, 7-5) definitely didn’t play a bad game, and they did well to come back after falling down 8-0 after the third inning.
Rebels head coach Scott Kiburis said West Marshall is just a tough opponent, and he is proud of his guys for battling back.
“They are the top of our league and they have been for the last couple years. They hit the ball hard and are well coached obviously,” Kiburis said of his opponent. “I thought we didn’t lay down, we had some strikeouts early and we threw our young freshman pitcher who hadn’t given up a hit in 11 innings. They were just taking pitches and he was only allowed to throw 65 pitches today, so they took some early and he got behind.”
Tscherter would go two innings in the game, giving up six runs and allowing five hits while striking out one batter. Junior Kyle Koppen pitched the final four innings for G-R, giving up two earned runs off five hits and striking out one.
On the offensive end, Koppen led the way as well with two hits and two RBIs, while senior Joe Smoldt crossed the plate twice for the Rebels and batted in a run.
“Although it was a defeat, I don’t think we played poorly,” Kiburis said. “We play like that against any other team in our league we probably win the game.”
West Marshall takes the diamond again on Monday when they face BCLUW at home for a 1 p.m. game, while G-R is off until Wednesday when they host Iowa Valley.