- Val T.
Rentschler’s walk-off single in 10th leads Caston past Pioneer
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
FULTON — Jackson Rentschler’s walk-off RBI single gave the Caston baseball team a 4-3 win in 10 innings over visiting Pioneer Tuesday.
Rentschler’s hit drove a sliding Joey Spin in from second base, and his teammates came out to mob him.
The win improved Caston to 11-5 overall and 8-2 in the Hoosier North. Pioneer fell to 9-7, 6-3.
Talon Zeider allowed one run over six innings of relief for the win after Rentschler allowed two runs over the first four innings.
Rentschler and Caleb Stinson had two hits each. Rentschler and Spin reached base four times each.
Caden Couch and Brian Gluth, the top two hitters in Pioneer’s lineup, each had two hits and an RBI. Caleb Sweet had two doubles.
Pioneer took a 2-1 lead with a run in the fourth and carried that lead going into the bottom of the seventh when Caston tied the game against Pioneer reliever Brenton Gaumer.
Spin walked, then stole second, then took third when the throw to try and get him went into center field for an error and then scored when the throw to try and get him at third was wild for another error.
Caston had a chance to win the game later in the inning, but Gavin Clem’s outfield assist from center field to Gluth at the plate after catching Grant Yadon’s fly ball capped off a double play and sent the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, with Caleb Stinson on third and nobody out, Caston coach Blake Mollenkopf signaled the suicide squeeze sign to Zeider at the plate.
Stinson charged down the third baseline as Pioneer’s Caleb Sweet delivered the pitch. Zeider bunted in the air, and Sweet made a headlong diving catch just in front of the mound. At this point, Stinson had crossed home plate. Sweet then got up and jogged to third and stepped on the bag for a shocking double play.
“I thought the squeeze was down, and it was over,” Mollenkopf later recalled. “And Sweet makes a nice diving catch, and we’re doubled off.”
Caston would later re-load the bases that inning, but Sweet would escape the jam by striking out Rentschler.
Pioneer took a 3-2 lead in the ninth on Jake Erickson’s RBI single that brought home Owen Miller.
But Caston would tie the game again on Stinson’s RBI bloop single.
Rentschler said that the dugout mood became more lively.
“I thought our kids were really resilient,” Mollenkopf said. “I don’t ever feel like we were down. There’s a time there where we’re down one going into the seventh, and we found a way. … In the ninth, they got one, but our kids are just like, ‘Hey, just get us to the next guy in line, and we’ll find a way,’ and they found a way.
“Credit Pioneer. That was a great baseball game, I thought.”
Zeider would pitch a scoreless 10th inning to set up Rentschler’s clutch hit in the bottom half. He pulled a hard grounder just inside the first baseline for the game-winner.
“I went in there thinking I should put the ball in play,” Rentschler said. “Coach told me to just relax up there and just hit it.”
Pioneer outhit Caston 8-6. The game featured 25 walks, two hit batters and four wild pitches between the teams.
Brayden Erickson allowed one run over the first four innings, and Gaumer allowed one run in three innings of relief. Sweet took over to start the eighth.
“There are a lot of emotions that go into a close game like this,” Pioneer coach Josh Hardy said. “Obviously, I wasn’t the happiest with our approaches at the plate, but overall the three pitchers that we had did a great job for us. Our defense for the most part cleaned it up a little bit.
“It’s a tough one to swallow. Last year and even this year, we’ve been in some games similar to this – never 10 innings – but similar to this and we were able to come out in the end. It obviously sucks to come out on the losing side in this kind of game.”
Caston beat Pioneer 6-3 in their first meeting in Royal Center on May 2. This game was a make-up from a May 3 rainout.
The teams could meet again in the Class 1A, Sectional 52 final. Caston will host the sectional from May 25-30.
Caston 4, Pioneer 3 (10 innings)
Pioneer 010 100 001 0 – 3 8 5
Caston 001 000 101 1 – 4 6 0
WP – Talon Zeider (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)
LP – Caleb Sweet (2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 2 K)
2B – Caden Couch (PIO), Caleb Sweet (PIO)