A district quarterfinal matchup between Maquoketa Valley and Gladbrook-Reinbeck started out scoreless through two, but ended in a lopsided, 13-1, victory for the Rebels at Alburnett, July 13. Maquoketa Valley finished its season at 13-15 overall, while G-R (16-11) advanced to play host 1A, No. 3 Alburnett (28-5), July 16.
No one player had a greater impact on the outcome than G-R’s Tyler Tscherter. The junior standout fanned seven Wildcat batters while allowing just two hits and one walk in 4 ⅓ innings of work from the mound. Tscherter was just as deadly from the other side in a 3-for-4, three-RBI day that included a pair of stolen bases.
“Looking back at the game, we knew that we had to play our best routine baseball and needed to avoid GR having a big inning to be able to compete with a pitcher like (Tscherter),” MV coach Eric Conner said. “However, the seven errors we committed was what really proved to be the biggest difference in this game.”
Both Tscherter and MV sophomore Parker Sternhagen had come in with starting pitching records of 7-1. The former, who had a.88 ERA during the regular season, worked the Wildcat batters early and often, buying enough time until the first Rebel score came through in the bottom of the third.
Sternhagen nabbed the first of three Wildcat hits with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, but he would be left stranded after Tscherter out-dueled Jon Siebert at the plate. Sternhagen would allow 13 hits on the day when all was said and done, striking out five and issuing three walks.
Still, Sternhagen worked his way out of some jams early, and only eight of the Rebel runs allowed were earned — with the remainder coming off the aforementioned infield errors.
“Parker (Sternhagen) did a nice job of working out of a bases loaded jam after we committed an error in center to get a rally started for them in the third inning. But, we put ourselves in the same situation in the next inning by committing some errors and they opened it up on the scoreboard,” Conner said.
Kale Hasselmann opened the fourth with single for the Rebels. An RBI from junior Aiden Wyatt (2-for-4, two RBI, four runs) got the Rebels going after that. A wild pitch sent Ethan Geinger in for another score. Two batters later, an overthrow at third base sent Wyatt home.
MV’s best chance to get the game back under control came when Blake Becker drew a walk with one out in the fifth. Tscherter then struck out freshman AJ Ambundo for the second out. Becker stole second while teammate Owen Mensen battled from behind the plate. Mensen nabbed the second Wildcat hit on a full count to send Becker to third before stealing second himself. A groundout by freshman Michael Schaul would end the threat.
“We did know that G-R’s depth at pitcher beyond their starter was not very deep, and that they would want to keep their starter at 65 pitches or under in order to bring him back to throw in the next game had they got there,” Conner said. “We had a chance to do that in the next few innings with runners in scoring position to cut into the lead and just couldn’t come through with a timely hit.”
MV was close to scoring again in the sixth. Avery Holtz drew a walk with one out, and Sternhagen followed suit. Seibert was thrown out at first after that, but Holtz and Sternhagen both advanced into scoring position with Norm Wilson up to bat. Wilson made contact, but the Rebels stayed sharp on defense to toss him out to end the inning.
That three-run fourth for Gladbrook-Reinbeck added some adversity to the mix — but a four run deficit was still doable. It wasn’t until a nine-run sixth inning that the Rebels truly buried the opposition.
The big run started off with another G-R run scored by Wyatt. They would amass a six run lead before Sternhagen would be pulled in favor of Wilson. Tim Harmon came in for Wilson at catcher as the pair looked to end a bases loaded jam in crunch time.
It was not to be, as an error at the plate sent another Rebel runner in for a score. The damage kept coming. Eighth grader William Kiburis added two more RBIs from the leadoff spot for the Rebels, while Cody Goebel and Keagan Giesking each drove in a run. The floodgates had opened, and would not be closed until MV was facing a 13-0 shutout.
Becker drew another walk in the final frame to spark some Wildcat activity. Ambundo popped a single after that, and Avery Holtz sent Becker home for the lone Wildcat RBI of the day. Wilson, a senior, would fittingly make the final contact of the season for MV — a flyout that would end Maquoketa Valley’s 2019 campaign.
“Norm Wilson, Blake Becker and Jon Seibert are three great baseball players and they will be missed on the field,” Conner said of his seniors. “They are also three very good young men off the field and lead by example very well and I know that being as young of a team as we are, that our underclassmen look up to these three.”