GILMAN - A case of the 'jumps' helped decide the NICL West.
East Marshall used a pair of leaping defensive grabs in the seventh inning to defeat West Marshall 2-1 on Tuesday in a matchup of the conference baseball co-leaders.
The victory gives the Mustangs a one-game advantage in the league race with one game to go.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
West Marshall junior Jared Riemenschneider, right, slides into second with a stolen base in front of East Marshall’s Dalton Beadle. East Marshall defeated West Marshall 2-1 on Tuesday in Gilman in a matchup of the NICL West Division co-leaders.
"It's maybe the last big game on this field for me," said East Marshall senior Dakotah Wolken, who was the winning pitcher and also scored what ended up being the winning run. "It's a big win."
East Marshall (18-10, 11-2) plated its two runs off Trojan ace Jared Riemenschneider on a throwing error in the third inning. Wolken made the lead hold up with a little help from the Mustang defense. East Marshall turned two double plays, but saved the best for the seventh. Second baseman Dalton Beadle's jumping grab of a line drive was the second out, while Wolken ranged behind the mound to field a bouncer for the final out.
"We took advantage of a couple of their mistakes and we put ourselves in position with some baserunning and putting balls in play," said East Marshall head coach Justin Frost.
"Beadle made some extremely tough plays up the middle toward bag. He was dialed in defensively," Frost added. "Dakotah's my best athlete, I don't know if anybody else makes that play except for him on our squad. Those were two very good plays to end the ballgame."
West Marshall (14-6, 10-3) saw a caught bunt lead to a double play in the third and then had the potential tying run in the fourth gunned down at the plate. The Trojans left a runner on second in the sixth and the game ended with runners at second and third.
"It hurts a little bit to be on the downside of it, with that being said, it was a very high quality game played by two really good teams," said West Marshall head coach Jerod Brown. "Nobody has a reason to hold their head after that."
With its guaranteed share of the NICL West crown, East Marshall wraps up league play on Thursday against Grundy Center in Gilman.
"We've still got Grundy Center. We have to take care of our business still," Frost said. "That's what I told the kids in the huddle, 'We're still not done yet. Enjoy this, but it's not over.'"
The Mustangs' last NICL West title came in 2010 as they shared the crown with Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
"There's seven new starters pretty much from last year's squad," Frost said. "It helps having two good pitchers like John (Bloom) and Dakotah to lead your conference lineup, and our No. 3 Jake Weatherman has thrown very well.
"It's been our pitching that has led us all year and it's led us in conference play."
West Marshall, the 2011 NICL West champion, closes the conference season on Thursday with South Tama coming to State Center.
Garrett Goodwin's second hit of Tuesday led off the seventh as the Trojans trailed 2-1. He moved up to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Matt Van Metre walked and both West Marshall runners moved up a base - to second and third - on the second wild pitch of the inning.
Cody Beckman sent a liner toward right-center that Beadle made a leaping grab of for the second out.
"I've got to credit (Beadle) for that jumping catch at second base," Wolken said. "I wanted to get a double play after the first guy got on and then they got in scoring position. It's not what I wanted, but ended up good."
Wolken's was able to race behind the mound and a few steps toward third base to make a jumping grab of the bouncing ball off the bat of Justin Weitzell. The throw to first was in time to end the game.
"At first I thought it was right to me. Then I saw it was going to be behind me and I had to take off backwards," Wolken said. "I didn't realize I was going to have to jump and hurry to make the throw, but I ended up making the play."
Wolken allowed one run on six hits, walking two and striking out six to move his season record to 6-0.
"In the seventh inning we had some quality at-bats," Brown said. "We had some guys in scoring position and hit a ball hard, right at somebody. A couple inches the other way, a couple feet the other way, maybe it goes through and we score two runs, but that's the way it goes. All you can really control is having a good approach at the plate and we did that."
Riemenschneider saw his streak of 11 straight decisions won in NICL West play (dating back to 2010) end as he allowed two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out four. Offensively he finished 2-for-2 with three stolen bases. Riemenschneider singled and scored on a triple by Nolan Sinning in the fourth.
East Marshall started the third with Lance Steward reaching on an error. A hit-and-run single by Wolken, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Beadle put runners at second and third.
West Marshall tried to pick Steward off third base and the throw got away, allowing Steward to score and also Wolken to race around to the plate for a 2-0 advantage.
The postseason district pairings were released on Tuesday. Both East Marshall and West Marshall are the No. 2-seed in their respective Class 2A districts.
On July 10, East Marshall faces the winner of Aplington-Parkersburg against South Hardin in the District 13 semifinals, while West Marshall faces the winner of Roland-Story against CMB in the District 14 semifinals.