Rebels rise to rebuff Royals

–Photo by Ross Thede

Sun Courier note: The second district semifinal between Gladbrook-Reinbeck and No. 5 Don Bosco on Tuesday, July 5, was suspended due to inclement weather with the score 9-5 G-R in the fourth inning. The game will resume at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, and the winner will take on North Tama Saturday night in Traer.

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck baseball team wanted to have the option of using its ace pitcher for a potential second-round showdown with perennial powerhouse Don Bosco.

The Rebels won’t get that chance, even though they earned the opportunity

G-R junior right-hander William Kiburis maxed out his pitch count but did so to help the Rebels advance through the opening round of Class 1A District 7 play, holding Colo-NESCO to three hits in a 5-3 victory Saturday night at Koch Field.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck (20-13) defeated the Royals 15-6 on June 11 in Zearing to win Colo-NESCO’s four-team tournament, but the Rebels couldn’t come up with the same kind of offense this time around. Colo-NESCO starting pitcher Drew Banks held G-R to two hits over four innings, and the Rebels’ 3-2 lead simply wasn’t enough breathing room.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Nick Tscherter, right, pumps his fist after first baseman Drew Eilers (18) caught a pop-up for the final out of the Rebels’ 5-3 victory over Colo-NESCO in Class 1A District 7 baseball Saturday at Koch Field in Reinbeck. –Photo by Ross Thede

By the time Kiburis eclipsed 65 pitches, Gladbrook-Reinbeck head coach Scott Kiburis had no choice but to leave his son and standout pitcher on the mound for the remainder to see it through.

William’s least efficient outing of the season prevented him from going the distance, but his junior batterymate Nick Tscherter delivered in a pinch.

Colo-NESCO (13-12) trailed 5-2 entering the top of the seventh inning but loaded the bases against Kiburis on a hit batsman, an error and a four-pitch walk. Kaleb Gray plated Breckin Clatt with a sacrifice fly to deep center field, at which point Scott strolled to the mound to make a mandatory pitching chance.

William hit the single-day maximum 110 pitches exactly, forcing his coach’s hand. Tscherter inherited runners on the corners and one out in a two-run game, and he walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Tscherter settled in from there, striking out the next batter before getting a game-ending flyout to first baseman Drew Eilers for his first save of the summer.

“It was a little nerve-wracking just because you’ve got to be perfect,” Tscherter said. “You’ve got to throw strikes in that instance and I think I did that.

–Photo by Ross Thede

“I was hoping to pitch today — like in the third or fourth inning — but things worked out like they did and we got the win.”

Tscherter deserves as much credit as any. He was 3-for-3 with an RBI single in the first and the go-ahead RBI in the fifth. Banks walked Hudson Clark to start the bottom of the fifth and was relieved by Spencer Hansen, who was greeted by William with a line-drive single off the shortstop’s glove. One out later, Tscherter singled up the middle to plate Clark, and William got waved home when the ball slipped under the center fielder’s glove.

The insurance runs proved to be the game-winners when Colo-NESCO scrambled together its rally in the top of the seventh.

“It felt good just to put my team ahead and do it for them because they do it all and it was good to get us up and give us a good, fighting chance and hopefully rally them up,” Tscherter said. “I think we just didn’t put enough runs up early enough but obviously that’s kind of hard to do. I thought we hit the ball fine and I think we did a pretty good job all-around.”

Banks (5-2) took the loss, leaving with a 3-2 deficit before Tscherter’s single in the fifth led to two crucial runs against Hansen. Banks and Hansen combined for five strikeouts, three walks and two hit batsmen. Only three of G-R’s five runs were earned.

“Yeah we definitely wanted a little bit more offense early,” coach Kiburis said. “They threw two really good pitchers; they have a really good team. We would have liked to score some more runs but their pitcher was throwing strikes and we didn’t get enough guys on to utilize our speed.”

Austin Gehring had G-R’s only other hit — a two-out single off Hansen in the sixth. Clark walked again and Kiburis was hit by a pitch, but Hansen escaped the jam when Caleb Egesdal popped out to first.

The only extra-base hit of the game was Kenny Cutler’s two-out, two-run double in the top of the second. William walked Banks to start the inning but got a comebacker to the mound to start a 1-6-3 double play. Ephram Muntz followed with a single to left and Lucas Frohwein walked, and Cutler hammered a ball to the gap in right to give the Royals a brief 2-1 lead.

G-R got even in the home half when Eilers was plunked, took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout. Eilers beat Muntz’s high throw home on Gehring’s grounder to third, pulling the Rebels back to even at 2-all.

Logan Giesking put G-R in front to stay when he walked to start the fourth, eventually scoring on a Luke Riffey groundout.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s first batter of the inning reached base four out of six times, and each of them crossed home plate.

William went 6 1/3 innings for the win, improving to 9-0. He allowed only three hits and two earned runs, but eight walks and two hit batters significantly hindered his performance. He struck out five, climbing to second in 1A with 95 strikeouts this season.

Coming off a no-hitter in G-R’s 1-0 win over Grundy Center on Monday night, it wasn’t the effort he expected of himself.

“Probably not my best — I would say one of my not great starts of the year, but our defense was good pretty much all game,” William said. “They made plays for me.”

In order to be available for Tuesday’s district semifinal against Don Bosco in Traer (the Dons defeated BCLUW 10-0 in six innings), William would have had to throw 65 pitches or fewer. Colo-NESCO wouldn’t allow it, so now the Rebels must face the No. 5 Dons (21-5) without one of the state’s top arms.

“We didn’t put up too many runs in the first couple of innings so I kinda figured I’d have to [pitch] as long as I could, but once we figured that out I was already past my point of turning back so I had to keep throwing strikes and try and get through the whole game,” he said. “It’s tough (getting taken out in the seventh) but thankfully Nick did a good job, got in there, got two outs and we were outta there.”

Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Don Bosco were set to face off in the second of two district semifinals on Tuesday, July 5, in Traer, set tentatively for 7:00 p.m.

The Rebels and Dons have met twice before in the postseason in the last five years. Don Bosco beat G-R 3-0 in 2020 and 3-2 in 2018 — both district finals.

Further coverage of the Redhawks’ postseason including the July 5 game will be available both online as it unfolds this week and in next week’s print edition of the Sun Courier.