Missed opportunities cost Mustangs in 3-2 defeat

George-Little Rock 0-0-1-0-0-1-0 2

Sibley-Ocheyedan 1-2-0-0-0-0-X 3

SIBLEY-Despite multiple chances, George-Little Rock fell 3-2 to Sibley-Ocheyedan Wednesday, July 5, in a Siouxland Conference baseball game played in Sibley.

The Mustangs were unable to push across the tying run in the sixth or seventh inning.

“Same thing happened last time we played them. They beat up on us early and we fought back. We were just unable to get that tying run in,” said George-Little Rock coach Brian Luenberger. “We got thrown out at the plate in the top of the sixth. In the top of the seventh we had the bases loaded with one out and weren’t able to push across that run.”

George-Little Rock compiled five hits as a team, two of which came from Blake Johnson. He finished the game 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Dalton Van Briesen also added a hit. Nathan Klingenberg was 1-for-2 with an RBI and a walk. Al Aeikens walked and scored a run. Josh Haken had a hit and a stolen base.

The Mustangs scored one run in the third inning and one in the sixth. Despite leaving the bases loaded in the final inning, Luenberger noted the Generals played some good defense.

“Sibley (Ocheyedan) made some great plays defensively. Their shortstop made some great plays and their second baseman made some great plays,” Luenberger said. “They just made a bunch of plays and scored one more run than we did.”

Matt Matuska started out by giving up three runs, but then settled down. He went six innings, allowed five hits, three runs of which none were earned, one walk and four strikeouts.

“After that (second inning) he was really on cruise control. We made some plays defensively, we turned a double play and we threw out a guy trying to steal second,” Luenberger said. “Matt did a good job and he gave us the outing we needed to win. Too bad we couldn’t help him.”

George-Little Rock is still searching for the big hit at the right time.

“We battled, we hit the ball hard, they just made plays. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t push a couple more across,” Luenberger said. “We’re starting to hit the ball hard, we just need to string something together.”

G-LR comes up short to Okoboji 6-5

Nathan Broek | Sports Editor

nbroek@ncppub.com

Okoboji 1-1-1-1-0-1-1 6

George-Little Rock 1-2-0-0-0-2-0 5

GEORGE-George-Little Rock had some of its better at-bats of the season in the final Siouxland Conference baseball game of 2017 against Okoboji Thursday, July 6, but an error in the top of the seventh ended up giving the Pioneers what proved to be the game-winning run in a 6-5 defeat.

Both teams scored single runs in the first inning before Okoboji scored one run in the top of the second and George-Little Rock countered with two runs in the bottom half for a 3-2 lead. The Pioneers retook the advantage with single runs in the third and fourth frames and scored another single tally in the top of the sixth for a 5-3 lead.

The Mustangs then got the bats going again with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and attempted to get the go-ahead run later, but Okoboji nailed the runner at the plate to keep the game tied at 5. The Pioneers got the game-winning run in the top of the seventh off a walk, a base hit, a George-Little Rock error and a fielder’s choice play. The Mustangs went one-two-three in the bottom half to end the game.

Despite the ending, coach Brian Luenberger liked how his team played in this game.

“We played very well last night for the most part. We did have a few too many errors in a couple spots, but we may have had a chance to win in the bottom of the sixth. However, we got thrown out at the plate,” Luenberger said. “That said, I was just pleased with our effort. I just think we really competed and we seem to be playing our best ball right now.”

Luenberger really liked how the bats performed. Dalton Van Briesen had two hits and one RBI. Blake Johnson was credited with one RBI. Matthew Matuska had two hits and one RBI. Nate Klingenberg had one hit. Caleb De Kam had two hits and one RBI. Nick Hengeveld scored once. Josh Haken had one hit and one run. Al Aeikens hit a triple, scored twice and had one RBI. Carson Stave scored once as a courtesy runner.

“We were sitting on the fastball, hitting is contagious and once a couple guys do it (hit the ball), you just kind of ride that momentum and we rode it for a while,” Luenberger explained. “We’ve had good at-bats, we just haven’t been able to string any together throughout the year.”

Luenberger did note a change in the middle of the lineup may have helped.

“Last night I mixed up the middle of the order a little bit and maybe that was beneficial for us. We had some guys come up with some big base hits for us. Hopefully, we can keep it going tomorrow night (Saturday, July 8 against Clay Central-Everly for the first round of the Class 1A district tournaments).”

Despite a few errors on defense, Luenberger also liked the efforts of Van Briesen and Klingenberg on the mound. Van Briesen threw the first two and two-thirds innings with three hits, three runs of which one was earned, two walks and no strikeouts. Klingenberg went four and one-third innings with six hits, three runs of which two were earned, four walks and six strikeouts.

“They attacked the strike zone for the most part. We didn’t walk too many and I thought it (working two pitchers) was a good change of pace,” Luenberger said. “Dalton threw 40 and then we came in with Nathan. He ended up throwing 80 pitches and I wasn’t planning on using him that much, but he was keeping the ball down and getting his breaking ball over. Again, both guys threw strikes and let their defense play behind them. We need that to continue into the tournament trail too.”

Mustangs pound CC-E

pitching in

four innings

Nathan Broek | Sports Editor

nbroek@ncppub.com

Clay Central-Everly 0-0-0-0-X-X-X 0

George-Little Rock 3-4-6-2-X-X-X- 15

GEORGE-George-Little Rock knew coming in it would have a chance to put some good at-bats together and it did not take long for the Mustangs to get their first tournament victory of the season in a 15-0 trouncing of Clay Central-Everly in four innings of Class 1A District 1 tournament baseball Saturday, July 8.

The Mavericks came in as a winless team and with a team ERA of over 10. With those facts in mind, coach Brian Luenberger told his team to be patient at the plate and to wait for a good pitch to hit.

“We told the guys that their pitcher wasn’t going to throw it past us. Therefore we could pick our pitch. We could hit our pitch and not their pitch,” he said.

Dalton Van Briesen led off the bottom of the first with a walk, stole second base and moved to third off a throwing error by the Clay Central-Everly catcher. Van Briesen then scored on a wild pitch. The final two runs were scored on an error by the Mavericks’ second baseman.

In the second inning, the first of four runs was scored on a fielder’s choice play to second base before Matt Matuska laced a two-run double to right field. On the play, Matuska moved to third base as the right fielder overthrew his cut-off man. Matuska then came around to score on a balk by the pitcher.

The Mustangs really got the bats going in the final two innings of the game. In the bottom of the third, the first run was scored on a fielder’s choice from shortstop to third base with the bases loaded. Blake Johnson then followed that up with a groundball single into center field to score one. Nate Klingeberg then laced a one-run single to center field and Luke Schriever laced a three-run triple before the inning ended with Schriever getting thrown out at the plate trying to stretch his triple into an inside-the-park home run. The game ended in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run double down the left field line by Van Briesen.

The final offensive numbers had Van Briesen with his two-run double, two runs scored, three RBIs, two steals and two walks. Johnson had one hit, two runs, two RBIs, three steals and one walk. Matuska had two hits with one hit being a triple, one run and three RBIs. Klingenberg had one hit, two runs and a steal. Caleb De Kam had one run and a steal. Lucas Nagel had two hits, with one hit being a triple, and a season-high five RBIs. Nick Hengeveld had one hit, two runs and a steal. Josh Haken had two hits, two runs and a steal. Al Aeikens scored once and walked twice. Carson Stave and Brayden Smith each scored once as courtesy runners.

“It took us a little while to adjust to the speed (of their pitcher), but once we did our guys made some big hits,” Luenberger said. “I think this is the lineup we’re going to go with. At Okoboji (Thursday, July 6) it worked well for us and tonight it worked well for us too again. This is the one we’re going to go with.”

Aeikens was on the mound and threw a complete game with three hits, no runs, three walks and five strikeouts.

“He said (before the game) that he was a little nervous with it being postseason and stuff, but it was really good to see him settle down,” Luenberger said. “It’s postseason and it’s always good to get that first one out there and over with. We’re 1-0 on the new season and we get to go to practice on Monday, so that’s the best part.”

The task gets a little tougher Tuesday, July 11, for round two of the tournament against top-seeded and 10th-ranked West Sioux.

“We’re going to come and compete. I’ve got a good group of guys, we’re playing some pretty good ball and, pitching-wise, we’re going to throw a few different looks at them,” Luenberger said. “We’re probably not going to throw one guy at them. Probably a combination of guys, but we’ll just see what happens.”

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