On to state! – Class 3A Substate 1: ELC 3, Sergeant Bluff-Luton 0
STORM LAKE – Matt Gruhlke struck out 10 batters and had a two-RBI single in the first inning to lead Estherville Lincoln Central to a 3-0 victory over Sergeant Bluff-Luton in the Class 3A Substate Tournament.
“Going to state was in my head, but I got a little wild when I thought about it, so tried to stay away from that,” said Gruhlke, who gave up just three hits and four walks against the Warriors.
“That’s a very good hitting Sergeant-Bluff-Luton club and Matt came in and shut them down,” said ELC coach Chuck Fandel. “He pitched up on people and got his breaking ball over (the plate) tonight.”
The Midgets advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1987 and will play Tuesday at Principal Park in Des Moines. ELC will play Harlan at 8 p.m.
ELC went right to work against the Warriors in the top of the first inning.
Keith Fandel drew a walk followed by a double from Alex Arends to put runners at second and third.
Gruhlke stepped up and delivered a single up the middle to score both runs.
SB-L starter Levi Maxfield gave up walks to both Marcus Stangl and Cody Prather to load the bases with one out.
Maxfield finally settled down though, striking out Jeremy Hunt and then getting Chance Moore to hit a grounder to the second baseman who took the force out at second.
Gruhlke also started the game giving up a leadoff walk to John Mascerallo, but he followed with three strikeouts.
The only baserunner by either team over the next two innings came in the bottom of the third when Gruhlke gave up a two-out walk to Mascerallo. However, Micah Stulich flew out to center to end the inning.
ELC’s next baserunner came in the fourth when Hunt hit a one-out single, but he was stranded at first as Maxfield retired the next two batters.
SB-L’s Jordan Huffman was the first Warrior to get into scoring position as he drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a groundout and stole third base.
However, Jake Wimmer popped out to Fandel at second base and then Maxfield grounded out to Gruhlke to leave the runner stranded on third.
ELC added an insurance run in the fifth. Fandel drew a leadoff walk, his second of the night, and went to second base when Arends grounded out to third.
After Gruhlke popped up to the second baseman for the second out, Stangl came up with an RBI single to left to put ELC up 3-0.
“I was seeking a little revenge after I struck out earlier,” said Stangl.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Warriors’ Taylor Grody hit a one-out single to left field, but Gruhlke recorded strikeouts seven and eight on Jared Schumacher and Mascerallo to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, the Warriors tried one more time to rally as Huffman and Wimmer both came up with one-out singles.
Gruhlke followed up with strikeout No. 9 on Ross Chettinger for the second out and Moore caught Maxfield’s fly ball in center to end the inning.
With a state berth on the line, Gruhlke started the bottom of the seventh inning with strikeout No. 10. He then gave up a walk to Grody.
The game came to a quick close though as Schumacher hit a grounder to shortstop Arends who stepped on second for the force-out and threw to Stangl at first to complete the double play.
The Warriors’ Maxfield only gave up four hits while striking out 7 and walking five.
For ELC, Gruhlke was 1-4 with two RBIs, Arends was 1-4, Stangl was 1-2 with an RBI and Hunt was 1-3.
Fandel was on base three times as he drew three walks in the game.
“I thought he was very patient at the plate and made the Sergeant Bluff pitcher work,” said coach Fandel. “Alex had a huge double and Matt’s been coming through all year.
“The defense made plays tonight. Everyone’s contributed this season,” he said.
ELC200 010 0 – 3 4 0
SB-L000 000 0 – 0 3 0
ELC – Gruhlke (WP) and Doyle. SBL – Maxfield (LP). 2B – ELC: Arends.