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Next up: vs. Benton Central, 2A regional Saturday 


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC


The Rochester baseball team beat Wabash 7-6 in 10 innings to win the Class 2A, Sectional 36 title at Wabash Monday. They improved to 19-10 and will face Benton Central in a regional Saturday. Front, from left – assistant coach Dave Baillieul, Drew Bowers, Brant Beck, Brady Coleman, Colton Ferverda, Gavin Young, Kaleb Lutz, Wes Steininger, assistant coach Todd Beehler. Back – assistant coach Jaklob Good, assistant coach Brent Easterday, coach Cory Good, Conner Dunfee, Trenton Meadows, Callen Ferverda, Parker Casper, Carson Paulik, Jake Seuferer, Brady Beck, Tanner Reinartz, assistant coach Jeff Himes, assistant coach Bryan Holcomb, assistant coach T.J. Smith.


WABASH — Rochester senior baseball player Gavin Young admitted he had been in a slump when he stepped up to face Wabash’s Jason Tait with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning with the game tied in the Class 2A, Sectional 36 final at Chris Rood Field Monday.

Young had been 1 for 13 in the sectional. He struck out twice earlier in the game, and he grounded to short to end the bottom of the eighth with the potential winning run on third base.

Describing his hitting up until that point as “pretty s—,” his last at-bat of the sectional was just pretty, as he delivered a walk-off RBI single to lift the Zebras to a 7-6 win, capping a comeback from a five-run deficit in the sixth inning and giving Rochester their 13th sectional title in school history and their first since 2021.

Rochester never led the game until the game’s final pitch.

“Just probably hit the ball,” Young deadpanned when asked about his approach. “I kind of want to go home.”

Jake Seuferer had two hits and three RBIs, and Tanner Reinartz had two doubles and two RBIs. Brant Beck had an RBI infield single.

“The main thing was we’ve been preaching all year this team can come back,” Seuferer, Rochester’s senior catcher, said. “We’re not out of the game at any time – Caston in the last inning (a 10-6 win on April 13), Whitko in the last inning (a 7-5 win on May 13). We’re never out of a game, and especially with this game.”

The resilient spirit might have its roots in diminished expectations. Rochester won 22 games and went 9-0 in the Three Rivers Conference last year, but they graduated 10 seniors, including all-TRC players Tarick McGlothin, Hunter Campbell and Brayden Zink.

“After graduating 10 (players) last year, a lot of people kind of wrote us off,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “Collectively as a coaching staff, we said we might not win as many games as we did last year, but … (assistant coach) Dave Baillieul told us we were going to win a sectional. And he said it as soon as that game was over. He said, ‘I told you this group was going to do it.’ This is a great group. They’re all about the team and setting the next guy up a little bit better.”

Reinartz pitched the first five innings, and Carson Paulik pitched the last five. Only one of Wabash’s runs was earned.

Paulik earned his third win in five days in the sectional. Reinartz and Paulik combined for 14 strikeouts. Paulik retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. Wabash never advanced a runner beyond first base in extra innings.

“It’s great,” Reinartz said. “Speechless. And we’re not done yet.”

Freshman infielder Brady Coleman complimented the two hurlers for their performance under pressure.

“It was amazing,” Coleman said. “They’re two studs. Their pitching is really consistent. It was a big thing.”

Good raved about the competitiveness of both Paulik and Reinartz.

“Carson and Tanner were just straight up dogs out there for us,” Good said. “Just competing. It doesn’t matter if there’s a guy on second base and no outs. Somehow, some way, we find a way to get out of those innings. That’s big baseball right there.”

Wabash finished 19-11. Trevor Daughtry pitched the first six innings before Tait went the final 3 ⅓.

The win mirrored Rochester’s softball sectional title win over Pioneer from four days earlier. That game also had a 7-6 final tally and also went to extra innings.

This marks the first time since 2005 that Rochester has won sectional titles in softball and baseball in the same year. Good was a sophomore that year.

“It’s kind of cool to be part of the last five sectionals here, two as a player and three as a coach,” Good said. “I’m hoping for a lot more. I’m proud of these coaches and players and this program.”

Rochester had three hits in the 10th off Tait, all to the opposite field. The left-hand hitting Drew Bowers, who started the game as the flex player but entered as the runner for designated hitter Brady Beck in the fifth and stayed in the lineup for the rest of the game, led off with a single in the hole between third and short.

He advanced to second on a wild pitch that popped briefly in the air after Wabash catcher Hayden McWhirt blocked it after it hit the dirt.

One out later, Parker Casper singled to the hole in right. Bowers took a hard turn around third. First baseman and cutoff man Cooper Long cut it off and threw to third, but the throw bounced away from the third base bag by about eight feet. Bowers stayed at third, and Casper advanced to second.

Wabash coach Jack Holley elected to intentionally walk Coleman and load the bases and take their chances with the slumping Young. Coleman later said that was the first time he had ever been intentionally walked in any game.

Young sent a fly ball in the direction of the right field line. Right fielder Caleb Daugherty sprinted towards the line as the Rochester baserunners tagged up. Daugherty reached for the ball, but it ticked off his glove and landed fair, and Bowers sprinted home with the winning run as the rest of the Zebras dogpiled on Young in shallow right field.

“Well, I’m about 5-8 and 150 pounds, and those guys are not light,” Young said. “They’re pretty heavy.”

Paulik agreed.

“Oh my gosh,” a smiling Paulik said. “I was on the bottom with Gavin. It was pretty heavy.”

Wabash took a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh when Trevor Daughtry doubled, stole third and scored when the throw to try and get him sailed into left field as he just beat an accurate throw home from Bowers and a tag from catcher Seuferer.

Coleman lined a single to left-center to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Young flew out to right.

Reinartz then massacred a fly ball to straight away center. Daughtry, who was now playing center field, ranged back but could not get it. Reinartz had missed a walk-off homer by five feet at the cavernous park, but he did have a double that moved Coleman to third.

“I didn’t think it was gone, but it could have had a chance for sure,” Reinartz said. “It was absolutely pieced. I got all of that baseball. It was a low-and-in fastball, and I just went with it. It went a mile in the sky. It was a good ball.”

Holley intentionally passed Paulik to load the bases, but Seuferer delivered a sacrifice fly to Daugherty in right to score Coleman and tie the game again. It was 6-6.

Reinartz tagged and advanced to third, but Colton Ferverda flew out to center to force extra innings.

Brant Beck singled with one out in the eighth, and Casper bunted for a hit on a high pitch from Tait that landed perfectly behind the pitcher and away from the third baseman.

But Tait rebounded to retire Coleman on a fly to left and Young on the grounder to short.

Paulik walked McWhirt with two outs in the top of the ninth but got Jacob White on a foul pop to Reinartz at first base to retire the side.

Seuferer reached on an infield hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Ferverda grounded into a forceout to send the game to the 10th.

Tait had reached base four times on a triple and three walks, but Paulik struck him out to start the 10th. Brayten Eis flew out to Bowers in left field, and Paulik then struck out Carter Booth looking.

That brought up Bowers to start the bottom of the 10th.

“I just tried to lay down a bunt (on) the first pitch,” Bowers said. “I saw the third baseman move up, and I like hitting opposite field. As soon as he moved up, that just opened a bigger gap up there.”

Wabash took a 2-0 lead off Reinartz in the second. White led off with an infield single, and a walk to Tait pushed White to second. Eis reached on an error, scoring White and moving Tait to second.

Booth’s RBI single to the left side past the drawn-in infield made it 2-0, but an interference call on Booth for interfering with Paulik’s opportunity at shortstop to field Derek Reed’s grounder resulted in the first out, and Reinartz then struck out Daugherty and Keaton Fields.

Wabash scored two more runs in the fifth to make it 4-0. Daugherty reached on an error, Field singled him to second, and Daughtry reached on a sacrifice bunt and an error. McWhirt and White followed with back-to-back RBI groundouts.

Paulik allowed a single to Booth to start the sixth. Reed bunted him to second. Booth then stole third, and when the throw was wild for an error, Booth got up and headed home to make it 5-0.

Good then told his hitters what he wanted against Daughtry, who allowed only one Zebra baserunner to get as far as second base through the first five innings.

“I just brought the guys together and just reminded them again to have fun and relax,” Good said. “Get up in the box and start hunting the barrel. I knew we would eventually. I didn’t know it would take five innings to get to him. It’s frustrating when a guy like that’s coming up there and just throwing some stuff over the plate and saying, ‘Hit it.’ So we were out in front the whole time, but I really felt like we made some good adjustments later in that game. And this game is all about momentum. As soon as that momentum starts rolling, anything can happen.”

Coleman singled, Young reached on an infield single, and Reinartz scorched a two-run double to right-center.

“I was just telling myself, ‘Get on somehow. Get on somehow.’ And then that’s where that spark just led,” Coleman said.

Paulik walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Seuferer ripped a two-run double to make it 5-4.

“I was looking for a fastball, and he gave me one,” Seuferer said. “I was just trying to take it the other way… and hammered it way over his head.”

Ferverda fouled out, and Bowers grounded to second, moving Seuferer to third.

Brant Beck then chopped a grounder towards Daughtry on the mound, but it ticked off his glove. Fields tried to charge it from his shortstop spot, but he could not get a clean handle. Seuferer scored on the infield hit, the game was suddenly tied.

Zebra notes

  • Rochester (19-10) will play Benton Central in a regional Saturday. Benton Central edged Seeger 3-2 in the Sectional 35 final earlier Monday. The IHSAA will determine game time and site later today. Benton Central is 15-13. Their starting lineup features eight seniors and a sophomore.

  • The team’s buses received an escort around town from the fire and police departments after arriving back from Wabash. There was a brief fireworks display at Barnhart Field, and the players paused for photos with the police escorts after arriving while the song “Type S—” by Future, Metro Boomin, Travis Scott and Playboi Carti boomed from a portable speaker.

  • Brady Beck has now won five team sectionals in his school athletic career – four with the wrestling team and now one with baseball. He also won four individual sectional titles in wrestling.

  • Prior to the start of the sectional, Rochester had not won an extra-inning game in over two years. Then they won two extra-inning games in a span of five days.

Rochester 7, Wabash 6 (10 innings)

Wabash 020 021 100 0 – 6 6 0

Rochester 000 005 100 1 – 7 16 5

WP – Carson Paulik (5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

LP – Jason Tait (3 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)

2B – Trevor Daughtry (WAB), Tanner Reinartz 2 (RHS), Jake Seuferer (RHS)

3B – Jason Tait (WAB)


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