Mustangs win 7th straight, stay in NICL West chase
GILMAN – In a game that featured nine hits and nine errors between both teams, the East Marshall baseball team just made a few less mistakes than Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
The Mustangs scored three unearned runs in the second inning, added three more runs in the sixth frame and beat the Rebels, 6-1, here on Tuesday night during a North Iowa Cedar League West Division contest.
“We were fortunate to capitalize on some of their mistakes,” East Marshall coach Justin Frost said. “I don’t think they usually do that. But for our sake, it is good that they did and, fortunately, we were able to get some base hits after that.”
East Marshall needed just five hits to claim its seventh straight victory. The Rebels helped the Mustangs’ cause with six errors.
“They put the ball in play and forced us to make some errors,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Jeff Charley said. “Our pitching was phenomenal. (Brady Kuehl) made them hit grounders. He did his job, but the defense had a rough night and we couldn’t get the bats going.”
The win by the Mustangs (11-11 overall, 10-2 in NICL West) keeps them in the conference title race although West Marshall is still in the driver’s seat with no losses. The second meeting of the year between Marshall County rivals will take place tonight in State Center.
“It’s a big rivalry for sure and it came down to the same two teams last year,” Frost said. “They are in the driver’s seat though because they haven’t lost a game yet. if we can pick them off, it would be a step in the right direction.”
The East Marshall-West Marshall game was originally scheduled for Monday but wet weather postponed the showdown to tonight. The Mustangs could not look past the Rebels though because their other conference loss came in Reinbeck earlier this year.
“We had a little extra motivation because Gladbrook beat us the first time around,” Frost said. “We knew we couldn’t overlook them. And we’re not good enough to overlook anyone. We’ll just take it one game at a time and (today) we get West Marshall and we’ll see what happens.”
The game was scoreless after the first inning, but East Marshall dodged an early bullett by stranding four G-R base runners on base. Mustang freshman Nick Long stranded the bases loaded in the second, allowing his team to grab an advantage in the bottom of the inning.
Brock Pieters singled and Nick Mommer added an infield single to put two runners on base. With two outs on the board, two errors by G-R and a walk by Kuehl allowed the three runs to score.
“Those were two big innings,” Frost said. “If they jump out on us, it puts more pressure on your bats. It puts more pressure in general for your offense. For us to hold them and strand those runners was probably the key to the game.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck plated its only run in the sixth. Phil Zimmerman doubled and then scored on an RBI single by Marco Barron.
That is all the scoring the Rebels would do though and the Mustangs pulled even further ahead in their half of the sixth with three runs, highlighted by a bases-loaded, two-run double by Long.
“We knew we didn’t want just a two-run lead heading into the final inning,” Frost said. “I talked to (Long) before the at-bat about balance and he stayed back on the ball and drove it and it was one of the bigger hits in the ball game for us.”
Both pitchers threw well in the game. Long (4-2) got the win for the Mustangs as he allowed just four hits and one run while striking out seven and walking two.
Kuehl (2-2) allowed five hits against East Marshall and just two of the six runs were earned. He struck out three, walked four and hit one.
East Marshall stranded 10 runners on base, while Gladbrook-Reinbeck left eight on the bases. The Rebels dropped to 6-7 overall and 6-6 in NICL West play after the loss.
“We have been doing that all season,” Charley said. “We are leaving too many on base. If we can put that ball in play, wel’ll be OK. We have done it in some games, but we just have to be more consistent with it.”
Josh Wilson injured his hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning. He was replaced by Luke Svendsen, who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth. Wilson is day-to-day at this point. … The East Marshall-West Marshall clash in State Center will start at 7:30 p.m. … The Mustangs will play Grundy Center on Friday in Grundy Center at 7 p.m. in a varsity-only contest. They also announced Tuesday that Monday’s game against GMG has been cancelled. … The Rebels will host South Hardin on Thursday. … Gladbrook-Reinbeck beat East Marshall 5-0 in their previous meeting. That was the last time the Mustangs lost a game.