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Class 3A State Baseball – Midgets’ tournament run ends at state

By Staff | Jul 24, 2008

Estherville Lincoln Central seniors Matt Gruhlke and Marcus Stangl accept the Class 3A state qualifier trophy following the Midgets 6-0 loss to Harlan Tuesday at Principal Park in Des Moines. EDN photo by David Swartz

DES MOINES – At any state tournament event, an athlete or team needs to come with their best game.

Unfortunately for ELC, the Midgets didn’t come up with that against No. 2 Harlan.

ELC starter Matt Gruhlke walked seven batters in five innings of work. Four of them scored. The senior did end with 10 strikeouts and only gave up three hits, but he also hit a batter with the bases loaded in the third inning.

In two innings, Keith Fandel walked one batter and the Cyclones scored that run also.

“They got the leadoff runner on most of the game,” said ELC coach Chuck Fandel. “Both squads had good pitching-11 strikeouts for them versus 12 for us-but we gave up eight walks and two hit batters. That’s 10 extra baserunners.”

Estherville Lincoln Central’s Matt Gruhlke gets his lead off first base in the sixth inning. EDN photo by David Swartz

Offensively, the Midgets struggled to read Harlan pitcher Tyler Lefeber who struck out seven ELC batters the first time through the lineup and ended with 12 for the game.

“He changed speeds real well using a straight changeup,” said Fandel of Lefeber. “He also had a nice fast ball with good velocity and pitched up on us.

“We also took some bad swings,” he added.

ELC’s Alex Arends was the lone baserunner through four innings with a one-out single in the first inning.

Gruhlke, who followed Arends, fouled off several pitches and worked a full count before he went down swinging.

A brief welcome home ceremony was held at the ELC High School gym upon the baseball team’s return from Des Moines Wednesday afternoon. The players and coaches signed several baseballs which Iowa Farm Bureau provides to all-state qualifying teams as souvenirs. EDN photo by David Swartz

Jeremy Hunt was the other ELC batter who wasn’t a strikeout victim the first time through the lineup as he flew out to center.

When ELC returned to the top of the order with batters 2-4 in the fourth inning, Arends, Gruhlke and Marcus Stangl all popped up.

Finally in the fifth inning, a sharply hit ball by Schmidt was too tough to handle by Harlan shortstop Michael Kaufman. Kaufman did handle the ball when Cody Prather sent it toward him, taking the force out to get Schmidt at second base.

Chance Moore drew a two-out walk, the only one given up by Lefeber, and Justin Doyle singled to left field to load the bases.

ELC’s best chance to score ended though when Fandel flew out to right field.

The Midgets’ final baserunner was Gruhlke, who hit a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Lefeber struck out four of the final five batters to end the game.

ELC’s defensive highlight came in the top of the seventh inning after Fandel gave up a one-out single to Michael Bruck. Lefeber hit a grounder to shortstop Arends, who stepped on second and threw to first for the double play.

Fandel ended the inning with his only strikeout of the tournament as Nathan Bruck went down swinging.

Fandel gave up two hits and one walk in two innings of work.

At the plate, Doyle was 1-2 while Gruhlke and Arends each were 1-3.

The Midgets end their season with a 23-12 record.

Harlan (29-5) advances to play Dallas Center-Grimes at 2 p.m. on Friday. Dallas Center-Grimes won 3-2 over Carlisle.