Oskaloosa Force takes 3rd at USSSA State

Front row (L-R): Nate Sampson, Tallon Bates, Garrett Roethler, Trevor Willett, Carter Blanco
Back row (L-R): Spencer Vaughn, Braeton Halverson, Nolan Scott, Luke Fynaardt, Wyatt Grubb, Blake Jager
Coaches (L-R): Matt Blanco, Chris Fynaardt, Kenny Roethler (photo submitted)

by Chris Fynaardt

The Oskaloosa Force 13U baseball team competed this past weekend in the USSSA State tournament in Cedar Rapids. With 75 AA teams entered, the teams were split into four different divisions of play – Elite, Division I, Division II and Division III. Based on their 22-10 regular season record, they were placed into the Elite tournament.

The tournament started off with a long rain delay on Friday morning as storms dumped 3” of rain on Cedar Rapids. With pool play games shortened to an hour and 20 minutes, it was important to get leads early and be ahead when time ran out. In Game 1, the Force faced 3T’s Bats from Ames. Wyatt Grubb and Garrett Roethler combined to give up only 4 hits and one walk in 5 innings, as the Force dominated play, 8-1. The leading hitters were Tallon Bates, Wyatt Grubb and Blake Jager with 2 hits a piece. In their second pool play game, Blake Jager and Spencer Vaughn combined on a one-hitter to beat the Glenwood Rams, 9-1. Jager led the way offensively going 3-3 at the plate, while Nate Sampson and Spencer Vaughn each had two hits. By only allowing two runs in the two wins, the Force earned the #1 seed for bracket play in the Gold division (top 16 teams).

Saturday’s first game was a re-match from pool play against the Glenwood Rams. The Force had as much success in this game, as Luke Fynaardt, Blake Jager, Spencer Vaughn and Garrett Roethler combined to give up 5 hits in 6 innings, striking out 8 along the way. Leading hitters were Tallon Bates going 4-4 and Braeton Halverson 3-4. The Force exploded for 12 hits in the game. Next up for the Force were the Johnston Stingers. The Force jumped out to a 9-1 lead after 4 innings. The Stingers put up a rally in 5th, scoring 4 runs, but it was not enough. Wyatt Grubb, Garrett Roethler and Blake Jager combined to give up 5 hits in 5 innings. The Force were 11 for 21 at the plate this game, continuing their torrid hitting. Wyatt Grubb was a perfect 3-3 and Blake Jager and Garrett Roethler each had two hits.

This put the Force into the semi-finals on Sunday morning against the Des Moines Irish, the #1 ranked team in the state and a team that had beaten the Force 11-5 two weeks earlier. The Force threw everything they had at the Irish, knowing they’d need to play an almost perfect game to win, since the Irish were averaging 10 runs a game in the tournament. Blake Jager got the start for the Force and the Irish scored two in the first. Jager got his revenge in the bottom of the first, driving in two of his own with a big double. But once again, the Irish scored two in the top of the second, giving them a 4-2 lead. Jager would keep them at bay until he reached his max limit of innings after the first out in the 4th, giving way to Wyatt Grubb who had two innings left. In the bottom of the 4th, Grubb and Jager each picked up RBI’s to tie the game at 4. Things were looking up in the bottom of the 5th, as the Force loaded the bases with only one out. But that’s when the luck of the Irish finally arrived. Nolan Scott laced a line drive right at the 3rd baseman, who snared it and stepped on 3rd before the runner could get back to shut down the rally. Grubb had shut them down until the 6th inning, when the Irish benefitted from two walks to lead off the inning. Grubb gave way to Roethler to try and get the Force out of the inning, but it just wasn’t meant to be, as the Irish benefitted from a couple of bloop singles and two more walks to score four and take an 8-4 lead. The Force mounted a small rally to score one of their own and have two runners on, but a double play would end the game.

In the 3rd place game, the Force faced the Waterloo Heat. The players were struggling with a heat index well over 100 and coming off a draining defeat. After 4 innings, they were behind 7-4, but rallied for 4 runs in the bottom of the 5th, capped off by an RBI single by Fynaardt. One batter later, time ran out and the Force found themselves in 3rd place.

The Force played amazingly well all weekend against some of the top AA competition in the state. They batted .439 as a team, led by Grubb, Bates, and Jager, who all hit over .600 for the weekend. Jager, Grubb, Fynaardt, Roethler and Vaughn all pitched well all weekend with a team E.R.A. of 3.71. Team members are: Wyatt Grubb, Garrett Roethler, Trevor Willett, Braeton Halverson, Nolan Scott, Luke Fynaardt and Carter Blanco of Oskaloosa, Tallon Bates and Spencer Vaughn of Fairfield, Nate Sampson of New Sharon and Blake Jager of Eddyville. The team expects to be bumped to AAA for their 14U season.

Posted by on Jun 30 2019. Filed under Local News, Local Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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