(Treynor) -- Underwood waited over a year for a chance to avenge the loss that ended their 2018 season. On Saturday night, with a 6-5 9-inning 2A district final victory over Treynor, the Eagles (25-4) got their revenge.
“We talked about that Tuesday night,” Underwood coach Andy Vanfossan said. “Everything lined up the same. We’re going to their place, last year they came to our place. Our kids were able to step up tonight.”
In a game that saw 16 hits, 12 free bases (walks and HBP) and 20 stranded runners, it was the heads up base running and adept sliding of Tyler Boothby that proved the difference.
After seven innings proved not enough for the two Western Iowa Conference rivals - meeting for the first time since Treynor’s 12-8 district final win ended Underwood’s season a year ago - Boothby and the Eagles put together a two-out game-deciding rally in the ninth.
Blake Hall started it by reaching on a Treynor error. Boothby then lifted a deep drive to left center field that nearly landed in the glove of Cardinals center fielder Kyle Christensen, who traveled a long way to get there.
“No other centerfielder in the league is getting to that ball,” Boothby said. “He was so close, and Blake made a heck of a dive at the plate. That’s just baseball.”
Boothby, whose double scored Hall from first, then came all the way around from second on an infield hit by winning pitcher Zach Teten.
“I had to unplow the hitch and get my legs going,” Boothby said. “(Coach Vanfossan) was screaming at me to get going. I saw (Jaxon) Schumacher at the plate, but I just got my hand around the tag.”
It was Teten’s marvelous work in relief of ace Landon Nelson that had the Eagles in the position to win the game. The junior everyday catcher threw six innings and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out four.
“I was just trying to pump strikes,” Teten said. “My two-seam was working pretty well, getting some ground balls and the defense was making some great plays, too.”
Treynor had their own two-out rally in the ninth. Jaxon Schumacher singled with one out, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on Brenden Dingus’ RBI single. However, starting pitcher Kristian Martens - on courtesy of a walk - rounded second too far and was thrown out by catcher Blake Hall to end the game.
The fact the game made it to extra innings is owed in large part to an unlikely source. Freshman 9-hitter Jake Reimer delivered a two-out game-tying single in the sixth.
Reimer’s knock was just the latest clutch play in a game full of them. The teams combined for just two 1-2-3 innings and countless white-knuckled situations.
In the first, Eagles centerfielder Kyler Rodenburg delivered the opening blow with a two-out, two-run single to score Nick Ravlin and Drake Adair. Treynor cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of two errors, a hit batsman and a bases-loaded walk to Martens.
Martens tied the game in the third with an RBI single to right, but Underwood got an RBI groundout from Nelson in the fourth to put the Eagles back on top, 3-2.
After Treynor’s Tommy Duysen walked and Ryan Bach singled to start their own fourth, Coach Vanfossan turned to his “secret weapon” in Teten.
“He just pumps strikes,” Vanfossan said. “He’s a good kid. He deserves this.”
However, Christensen greeted him with a two-run double to give Treynor their first lead before Teten worked out of any further trouble to set up Reimer’s clutch hit and Boothby’s ninth-inning heroics.
In between the big hits, Nelson and Teten for Underwood and Treynor’s Martens and Drew Petersen consistently worked around seemingly endless jams.
“I just trusted my defense,” Teten said. “I knew they would make plays.”
Rodenburg led the Underwood offense with three hits while Ravlin, Adair, Hall, Boothby, Teten, Nelson and Reimer also hit safely. Christensen topped Treynor with two hits while Martens drove in two and Will Halverson, Schumacher, Petersen, Dingus and Ryan Bach had one hit apiece.
Treynor’s season closes at 27-11, but it also ends the coaching tenure of Coach Bob Mantell. Mantell led Treynor to over 300 victories, 11 WIC titles and four state tournaments in his 14 years as head coach.
“There’s not many adjectives you can use to say what he’s been able to build here,” Vanfossan said.
Unranked Underwood will play in a 2A substate final against No. 9 ranked Hinton - a 12-11 walk-off winner in extra innings over Alta-Aurelia on Saturday. The game is set for Tuesday in Harlan and can be heard on KMA-FM 99.1. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00.
“This time of year it’s pitching and defense and also if you get hot at the right time,” Vanfossan noted. “Hinton has been on a roll this year. We’ll sit down and figure out what we’re going to do on Tuesday, but we’ll do our same routine tomorrow and Monday then get on the bus and go to Harlan.”
View complete video interviews with Coach Vanfossan, Boothby and Teten below.