Evan can’t wait: Elliott’s 5 RBIs in the first 3 innings helps Zebras reach sectional final
Beehler drives in 3, Huffman saves win for Reinartz in win over Wabash
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH –- Jasper Walter haunted Rochester in one sport but not another.
Evan Elliott drove in five runs in the first three innings, and Aaron Huffman earned his first career varsity save with three innings of relief as the Rochester baseball team defeated
Wabash 9-7 in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal at Wabash’s Chris Rood Field Saturday.
Brock Beehler added two hits and three RBIs, and Tarick McGlothin and Ethan Medina had two hits and three runs scored each. Freshman Gavin Young had the first two hits of his varsity career.
Walter, a senior center fielder, had a memorable basketball performance against the Zebras on Feb. 8, 2019, when he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and 26 for the game in a 65-50 Wabash win. Rochester had led by 15 points earlier in that game. Walter, who had been playing both JV and varsity, was done playing JV after that.
This time, Wabash had cut an 8-3 deficit down to 9-7, and Walter came up with the potential tying run in scoring position.
But Huffman got Walter to ground out to shortstop to end it.
“Exciting,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “Proud of the guys. Tough game. We knew it was going to be a battle. It wasn’t going to be easy. Wabash battled the entire game. Our guys did as well. It’s fun. It’s exciting to play on Monday night. Just ready for another opportunity.”
Rochester won their ninth straight game and improved to 18-11. Wabash finished 15-14.
Three days after winning their first sectional game in seven years, the Zebras advanced to the sectional final and a date with Whitko at 7 p.m. Monday.
Elliott had a two-run triple to deep right in the first, an RBI single to right-center in the second and a two-run double to deep left in the third.
But Rochester also left two men on base in each of the first six innings.
Colton Learned’s two-out, two-run double in the fourth made it 8-5.
Huffman relieved starter Kyle Reinartz after Reinartz walked Andrew Dillon to lead off the top of the fifth. Dillon stole second and third and scored on Jared Brooks’ RBI single in the fifth to make it 8-6.
He got some defensive help when freshman catcher Jake Seuferer threw out Brooks trying to advance to third when a wild pitch got just a couple feet away from him.
Rochester got that run back in the bottom half. Beehler, who had a sacrifice fly in the first and an RBI single in the second, came up with two on and one out in the fifth.
He fell behind 0-2 against Chayden Beeks but lined a single to center to score Colton Ferverda to make it 9-6.
The next big defensive play came in the sixth. Huffman, who beat Wabash 6-3 in their regular season meeting on May 17, struck out Trevor Daughtry but Joe Leland singled. Learned then hit a one-hopper that Huffman snagged to his left. He threw to fellow sophomore McGlothin at second, and he threw back to Grant McCarter at first for an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
Good said Huffman “wants to be in that situation.”
“That was huge,” Good said. “Especially in the top of the sixth inning to give us a little momentum going into the seventh. A huge play. … Any double play is big time. … These young guys … Trust me, we have a tough time figuring out what nine guys are going to play. We have got some young guys out here who are very talented. Our concern is just making sure that that moment isn’t too big for them. … It’s different from a world series in travel ball or things like that.”
Learned started on the mound, but Rochester knocked him out after one inning. McGlothin blooped a single to center, and Medina singled to center before Elliott cranked his triple to deep right-center at Wabash’s gigantic power alley.
Elliott, whose older siblings Nic, Kirsten and Alexis are all former RHS athletes, said his approach in the batter’s box is to “stay calm.”
“Curve ball, that’s the only place I can really take it when it’s hanging,” Elliott said of his triple.
Said Good: “He’s kind of changed his approach at the plate a little bit. He got a little more comfortable, a little smoother with the swing. He was huge. We needed that. … Evan Elliott was one of those guys that came in today and picked us up when we needed to be picked up.”
Reinartz followed with another RBI triple to score Elliott, and Beehler’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
Beeks’ RBI groundout, Boogs’ bloop double and a run-scoring error on a ball that Walter hit made it 4-3 in the top of the second.
Brayden Sickafus relieved Learned to start the second and gave up an infield single to McGlothin and a walk to Medina. Elliott and Beehler later added RBI singles to make it 6-3.
Kane Lutz singled with one out in the bottom of the third and moved up to second on a walk to McGlothin.
Medina flew out, but Elliott pulled a two-out, two-run double that chased Leland to the warning track to make it 8-3.
After a walk to Reinartz, Wabash coach Jack Holley pulled Sickafus in favor of Beeks to try and stop the Zebra offense.
Whitko edged Manchester 2-1 in the other semifinal.
The semifinal games were delayed three hours in order to allow the field to be prepared after overnight rains.
Rochester 9, Wabash 7
Wabash 030 210 1 – 7 9 2
Rochester 422 010 X – 9 14 2
WP – Kyle Reinartz (4+ IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 HBP, 4 K)
LP – Colton Learned (1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K)
S – Aaron Huffman (3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
2B – Evan Elliott (RHS), Bryant Boggs (WAB), Colton Learned (WAB)
3B – Evan Elliott (RHS), Kyle Reinartz (RHS)
Rochester junior Evan Elliott (14) celebrates on third base next to Wabash’s Justin Booth (11) after his two-run triple in the first inning of the Zebras’ 9-7 win in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal Saturday. Elliott also had a single and a double and finished with five RBIs as the Zebras extended their winning streak to nine. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)
Rochester’s Tarick McGlothin beats the throw to first base for an infield single in the second inning of a 9-7 win over Wabash in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal at Wabash Saturday. McGlothin went 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Rochester will play Whitko in the sectional final at 7 p.m. Monday. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)