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Rochester redemption: After blown save in top of 7th, Reinartz hits walk-off homer to stun Westview

Zebras advance to semistate final vs. Illiana Christian


Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester’s Tanner Reinartz leaps on home plate to celebrate his walk-off two-run homer to give the Zebras an 8-7 win over Westview in a Class 2A semistate semifinal at Oak Hill Saturday. Reinartz hit two homers and had four RBIs for the game. He was also the winning pitcher. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

CONVERSE — Rochester junior baseball player Tanner Reinartz could not explain what happened during his 37-pitch outing in the top of the seventh inning against Westview in a Class 2A semistate semifinal at Oak Hill Saturday.

Explaining what he did as a hitter in the bottom of the seventh did not come any easier.

They had very different outcomes, but because of what Reinartz did in the bottom of the seventh,  nobody from Rochester will ever have to remember what happened in the top half. And because of it, Rochester moved within one win of the state finals.

Reinartz hit a walk-off two-run homer off reliever Gavin Engle as the Zebras edged Westview 8-7 to advance to the final.

The homer was Reinartz’s second in as many at-bats – he also hit a two-run shot in the fifth – and finished a three-hit, four-RBI day at the plate. It also made him the winning pitcher despite allowing three runs on two hits and four walks in one inning of work.

“It’s never been easy,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “Why would it be now?”

Brant Beck had two hits and three RBIs at the plate, and he also allowed one unearned run pitching the sixth inning in relief of starter Carson Paulik. Brady Beck had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.

Playing their first semistate game in school history, Rochester improved to 21-10.

Westview finished 19-11.

Engle hit Gavin Young with a pitch to start the seventh.

Third-base coach Jeff Himes called timeout to have a brief chat with Reinartz.

Himes told Reinartz to find a ball he could drive and do some damage.

Engle, however, got ahead 0-2 in the count to Reinartz.

Engle threw a curve over the plate, but Reinartz reached out and lifted it to straightaway center. Center fielder Micah Miller appeared to track it and moved back a step and then another and then leaped at the fence.

But it went over the fence.

Reinartz said this was his first walk-off homer in any baseball game. He also said he was not trying to hit a homer.

“It feels great,” Reinartz said. “It feels really great. Speechless. I mean, there’s no other words than just that’s every kid’s dream. … That ball was barely hit. I thought it was going to be a routine fly ball, to be honest with you.”

Young joyously leaped on second base and trotted around the bases ahead of Reinartz. Engle sat down next to the mound and stared at the fence in disbelief. Many of his Westview teammates were also brought to the ground in competitive agony.

Rochester’s Tanner Reinartz trots around the bases after hitting a walk-off two-run homer while Westview pitcher Gavin Engle (4) watches in anguish in the Zebras’ 8-7 win in a Class 2A semistate semifinal at Oak Hill Saturday. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

Meanwhile, Reinartz rounded the bases and then made a windmill dunk motion as his teammates mobbed him at home plate.

“Same kind of story we’ve said all year,” Good said. “It’s just we’re never going to give up. I got a little fired up and said, ‘We’re never dead, and that’s the truth.’ You look back at teams that make a deep run in the postseason, and this is the kind of stuff that happens. You just find a way to win.”

Rochester had trailed 1-0, led 3-1, saw Westview tie the game at 3, took a 5-3 lead, saw Westview trim the lead to 5-4 before scoring an insurance run on Brant Beck’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to restore a two-run lead.

Reinartz pitched a scoreless seventh inning protecting a three-run lead to get a save in the regional win over Benton Central on June 1.

This time he walked Mason Wire and Maverick Deveau to start the inning.

Max Engle’s grounder to second turned into a forceout at second, but the throw to try and double up him at first was wild for an error, allowing Wire to score.

That cut the lead to 6-5.

Reinartz threw a pitch in the dirt with Gavin Engle batting, and Max Engle tried to steal, but catcher Jake Seuferer pounced on it and threw to Paulik covering second. He stretched to catch the ball and tag Max Engle.

Westview was down to their final out.

But Gavin Engle would draw a walk, and he moved to second on a balk. 

Scott Yoder fell behind in the count 1-2 against Reinartz. He would work the count to 2-2 and then foul off three pitches before finally doubling to deep center field to score Gavin Engle and tie the game.

Jayce Brandenburger then grounded an RBI single to right on an 0-2 pitch to give Westview the lead, and when the ball was booted in right field for an error, Brandenburger advanced all the way to third.

Now Westview led 7-6.

“I have no idea,” Reinartz said when asked to explain the top of the seventh. “I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know what was going on. No explanation. … I was just trying to locate the fastball, and I couldn’t even do that. It was rough, a little rough.”

Reinartz’s fourth walk followed to Jaxon Engle, but he got Braden Kauffman on a grounder to Paulik at short to end the inning.

“Best team ABs (at-bats) we have,” Brant Beck recalled Good imploring them as they headed back to the dugout. “He told us that. The energy died down a little bit, but once Gavin got hit, it got up a little more.”

Rochester did not have a hit in the first three innings off Warrior southpaw Max Engle – Max and Jaxon are twin brothers and Gavin is their cousin – but they got four hits in a five-batter span in the fourth.

Reinartz and Paulik both singled to put runners on first and second. Max Engle struck out Seuferer looking for the second out, but Brady Beck grounded a single to right to score a sliding Reinartz as Paulik moved to third and Brady Beck to second on the throw home.

Brant Beck then roped a two-run double to left-center to give Rochester their first lead at 3-1.

Rochester sophomore Brant Beck celebrates at second base following an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Zebras’ 8-7 win over Westview in a Class 2A semistate semifinal at Oak Hill Saturday. Beck had two hits and three RBIs at the plate, and he also threw a runner out at the plate on a fielder’s choice from shortstop and allowed no earned runs in an inning of relief. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

“They’re good teammates,” Good said of his hitters’ ability to make adjustments as a game progresses. “They talk to each other. ‘Hey, what did you see? He’s got a fastball, a curve ball,a slider.’ We’re just working together and making sure that we’re having good at-bats and we’re getting better every at-bat, and I think that’s just all credit to those guys.”

Westview had two hits total in the first four innings against Paulik before coming up with three consecutive hits in the fifth. Miller had an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch.

But with nobody on and two outs in the bottom half, Max Engle would hit Young with a pitch, and Reinartz would hammer an 0-1 pitch well over the left-center field wall to put the Zebras back up at 5-3.

“That one was nuked,” Reinartz said. “That was hit really well. He threw a curve ball, and I was sitting on it, and I waited on it and just took it to left.”

Yoder reached on an error to start the sixth. Brant Beck then hit Brandenburger with a pitch. A wild pitch and Kauffman’s sacrifice fly would cut the lead to 5-4, but Brant Beck struck Miller out looking to strand the potential tying run at second base.

Seuferer led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, and he advanced to third on Brady Beck’s grounder to short. Brant Beck doubled to left-center to make it 6-4.

After Drew Bowers reached on an infield single, Westview coach Jason Rahn summoned Gavin Engle to the mound. Gavin Engle struck out Parker Casper and got Colton Ferverda to fly to left to keep the deficit at two.

A pitcher can throw no more than 120 pitches in a day, per IHSAA pitch count rules. And a team must win two games in one day to win a semistate.

Reinartz was second on the team in innings pitched behind Paulik.

“Carson threw 94 (pitches), so he had 26 pitches left with two innings,” Good said of the way he used his pitchers. “They were rolling back to eight, nine and one (in the batting order) in the sixth, so we thought that would be a good spot to get Brant out there. Had some control issues. Big moments for these guys. You know, if we were going to get a couple more in the bottom of the sixth, we probably would have rolled Brant back out, but Tanner had thrown (in the bullpen)... It just felt like that was the best bet for us to go out there and roll the dice with him and have them beat our best.”

Zebra notes

  • Rochester earned a spot in the final opposite No. 12 Illiana Christian, who drubbed Madison-Grant 10-0 in six innings in the first semifinal. Illiana Christian, the two-time defending state champ, was the only ranked team in the semistate.

  • Rochester freshman infielder Brady Coleman missed the semistate due to an ankle injury. Callen Ferverda started in right field, Brant Beck started at shortstop, and Bowers started at second base.

“I feel a lot more comfortable at shortstop actually,” Brant Beck said. “I used to play there all the time.”

  • Rochester was playing their first game at Oak Hill since Oak Hill left the Three Rivers Conference for the Central Indiana Conference following the 2005-06 school year. Cory Good was a Zebra player the last time Rochester played at Oak Hill.

  • Meanwhile, Westview was playing their second game in five days at Oak Hill. They defeated Eastbrook 12-1 in five innings in their regional game on June 3 at Oak Hill. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Lafayette Central Catholic on June 1 but was postponed and then moved due to rain.

Rochester 8, Westview 7

Westview 001 021 3 – 7 7 0

Rochester 000 321 2 – 8 9 4

WP – Tanner Reinartz (1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K)

LP – Gavin Engle (⅔ IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 1 K)

2B – Braden Kauffman (WV), Micah Miller (WV), Scott Yoder (WV), Brant Beck 2 (RHS), Jake Seuferer (RHS)

HR – Tanner Reinartz 2 (RHS)

Rochester sophomore shortstop Carson Paulik (5) celebrates with teammate Brant Beck in the background after Westview’s Max Engle was called out at second base in the top of the seventh inning of the Zebras’ 8-7 win in a Class 2A semistate semifinal at Oak Hill Saturday. Engle tried to advance on a pitch that short-hopped home plate, but catcher Jake Seuferer blocked the pitch and threw to Paulik covering second. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)

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