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  • Val T.

Illiana Christian continues ‘Post’-season dominance, beats Rochester in semistate final

Updated: Jun 12


Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester senior Jake Seuferer completed a four-year varsity career at catcher in the Zebras’ 12-2 loss in six innings to Illiana Christian in the Class 2A semistate final at Oak Hill Saturday. Seuferer drove in both Zebra runs for the game and finished with 28 RBIs for the season and 60 for his career. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

CONVERSE — Spencer Bandstra, Jake Scott and Isaac Vander Woude homered, and Tanner Post did not allow a hit after the second inning as the Illiana Christian baseball team defeated Rochester 12-2 in six innings in the Class 2A semistate final at Oak Hill Saturday.

No. 12 Illiana Christian improved to 21-9 and reached the state title game for the third straight year. They will play Providence at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis in the state title game.

Illiana Christian, a private school located in Dyer, has outscored their six postseason opponents by a combined score of 56-6.

Rochester finished 21-11. The loss came just hours after a stunning 8-7 win over Westview in the semifinals on Tanner Reinartz’s walk-off two-run homer in the seventh.

This marked Rochester’s furthest advancement in the state baseball tournament. They won their first regional when they beat Benton Central 7-4 on June 1.

“Not the best game we’ve played by any means this year,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “Just not dwelling on that. I told these guys that these will be some of the best memories you’ve ever had, and you took this program places it’s never been. And that’s what you should be proud of and not hanging your head on this game.”

Jake Seuferer blooped a two-out, two-run double to shallow right field in the first inning to give the Zebras a 2-0 lead. That followed a single from Gavin Young and a double down the left field line from Carson Paulik that moved him to third.

Rochester junior left fielder Drew Bowers makes a sliding catch to rob Illiana Christian’s Tanner Post of a hit in the Zebras’ 12-2 loss in six innings in the Class 2A semistate final Saturday. Bowers also had an infield single and a walk in two plate trips. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

Drew Bowers hustle led to an infield single with one out in the second, and he later stole second. Parker Casper then flew out to right field, and Bowers was thrown out trying to retreat to second after straying too far off the base.

Rochester senior pitcher Colton Ferverda blanked Illiana Christian through two innings, but the left-hand hitting Bandstra homered to right to lead off the third.

Ferverda then hit Aaron Gouwens with a pitch. Vander Woude then hit a grounder to Carson Paulik at short. He stepped on second, but his throw to first pulled Reinartz off the bag at first.

After an umpire’s conference to discuss whether VanderWoude was safe or whether he stepped on first base, the call was upheld.

That kept the inning alive for Scott, who hit a two-run homer to left to give the Vikings a 3-2 lead.

“It very well could have been right there,” Good said when asked what was the turning point. “We lost momentum. We were just kind of playing down.”

Luke Smith’s two-out, two-run double off reliever Brant Beck made it 5-2 in the fourth.

Illiana Christian scored six more runs in the fifth to make it 11-2. Vander Woude led off with a homer and later added a two-run double. Rochester pitchers also walked six in the inning, including back-to-back-to-back walks to the 7-8-9 batters in the Viking order

Bandstra added an RBI bloop single in the sixth.

Post then pitched a perfect sixth to end the game.

“I think he just settled down and started hitting his spots,” Illiana Christian coach Jeff Vander Woude said of Post. “He trusted the defense and everything too. In the first inning, I think he was a little amped up, but Rochester did a great job too. That’s a good team. So they got hits. I mean, that’s what happens.”

Ferverda and relievers Brant Beck, Reinartz and Gavin Young combined to walk eight and hit four batters.

“That’s them,” Good said. “We knew that's what they would do. They live off walks and hit-by-pitches. Yeah, we tried to avoid that and put guys out there we thought would fill it up. But the walks and hit-by-pitches played a huge key. You get guys on base. You get down in counts. When they’re in hitters’ counts, we’re grooving them in there, and they made us pay on those. So just a good approach by those guys.”

Illiana Christian, who is already assured of moving up to Class 3A per the IHSAA Success Factor, had also won its semifinal game by the 10-run rule earlier in the day, topping Madison-Grant 10-0 in six innings.

Paulik and Reinartz had thrown 35 out of a possible 39 innings during the Zebras’ postseason run prior to facing Illiana Christian.

Paulik had thrown 94 pitches against Westview earlier in the day.

Reinartz threw 37 pitches in relief against Westview and then threw another 24 in the fifth inning in this game.

Rochester senior pitcher Colton Ferverda looks home for the sign prior to delivering a pitch against Illiana Christian in the Class 2A semistate final at Oak Hill Saturday. Ferverda allowed three runs in three innings in a 12-2 loss in six innings. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

Good said he watched four guys warm up before the game before deciding on Ferverda. He thought he would alternate between slower and faster pitchers to perhaps mess with Illiana Christian’s timing at the plate.

Meanwhile, Post was the second southpaw starter Rochester had seen on the day. They got to Westview lefty Max Engle for six runs in 6 ⅓ innings in the semifinals, but the polished Post retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.

“I thought we had pretty good plate approaches,” Good said. “He had some two-seamers or sliders that were backing us off the plate on righties that we just could never see or get comfortable with. That toyed with a lot of the guys. He hides his ball really well. … You don’t pick it up until late. It feels heavier and gets on you quicker. He did a great job.

“We just kind of let the momentum get away, and we couldn’t get it back.”

Illiana Christian did not commit an error in either of their semistate games.

“Pitching and defense, right?” coach Vander Woude said. “If you pitch and play defense, you’re going to have a shot to win. So that’s what we pride ourselves in.”

Rochester senior third baseman Gavin Young prepares to hit in the first inning against Illiana Christian in the Class 2A semistate final at Oak Hill Saturday. Young went 1 for 3 with a run scored in his prep finale. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

Good praised his senior class of Ferverda, Young, Seuferer, Brady Beck, Kaleb Lutz and Wes Steininger, saying that this class reminded him of the seniors in 2021 that lifted the team to its most recent sectional title.

Good said he pondered stepping down as coach prior to this year, but this group of players rekindled his love of the game.

“I don’t how big of a secret it is too many, but I was at a point in my life last year where I didn’t know how long I could keep doing this,” Good said. “We sat down and talked about it at home. … It’s just a lot. Owning a business, having three kids, doing all that kind of stuff. Is this what we want to be doing? I had some time to think about it, and this team really lit that fire back in me and this coaching staff and just kind of reinvigorated all that – that fight and why we do it. … Just what these guys have done is incredibly special. Collectively, what satisfies you anymore as a coach? Is a sectional championship … enough? But I think they’ve raised that bar to where our goal every year from here on out is sectional champion. And then from there on out, let’s just go out and give it our best and see where we’re at.”

Illiana Christian 12, Rochester 2 (6 innings)

Illiana Christian 003 261 – 12 8 0

Rochester 200 000 – 2 4 0

WP – Tanner Post (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)

LP – Colton Ferverda (3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 K)

2B – Luke Smith (IC), Jake Scott (IC), Isaac Vander Woude (IC), Carson Paulik (RHS), Jake Seuferer (RHS)

HR – Spencer Bandstra (IC), Jake Scott (IC), Isaac Vander Woude (IC)

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