GROTON – Tabor left the door open, before finally slamming it shut in dramatic fashion Saturday night.
Despite numerous missed opportunities, Tabor eventually fought off Redfield to claim a 5-3 victory during the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field.
It wasn’t until Trent Herrboldt worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh that Tabor could finally exhale and celebrate the win.
“It’s pretty insane. It’s pretty surreal,” Herrboldt said. “You go out there every time thinking you’re going to win, right? Then you get some bases loaded in the last inning. It’s kind of nuts, but we pulled through.”
Herrboldt took over from starter Nolan Carda, who was solid on the mound for six frames. Herrboldt said he is used to pressure.
“I’ve been in those situations before, that’s why they put me in it,” Herrboldt said. “You get through it.”
Despite working with no margin for error, Herrboldt recorded the last two outs to strand three runners on base.
“Trent, if you look at his stats, he’s a great strike-thrower,” said Tabor coach Gary Kortan. “You have to put it into play against him and he wants the ball. That’s probably the biggest thing. He wants to be out there.”
Redfield coach Tommy Gregg said his team had chances in its final at-bat in the seventh.
“We had guys up that I’m very confident in. It’s baseball, a good hitter is going to fail 70 percent of the time,” Gregg said. “Give their guy credit, he got in on the hands on a couple of our guys and they just flared it out. We never did square anything up at the end when we needed to. We had guys in position. We’ll take that any day of the week.”
It seemed like Tabor was going to break the game open at several stages during the contest. However, the squad had three runners thrown out on the base paths and also left the bases loaded twice.
Meanwhile, Redfield kept hanging around, always in contention.
“Our pitcher (Carda) threw probably the best game of the year, but somehow Redfield to their credit got three runs, took that game right to the wire,” Kortan said. “That’s a scrappy bunch over there and Tommy does a helluva job, but I think our kids really want it.”
It was Herrboldt who plated an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to help provide Tabor with just a bit more breathing room heading to the seventh.
“I was pretty excited,” Herrboldt said of the hit. “It was good to have a little cushion with the bases loaded, especially.”
Tabor has now won its first two games in a state tourney for the first time since 1987. It will face fellow unbeaten Madison in the final game this afternoon.
“It’s just been a fun state tournament so far,” Kortan said, “and we’re looking forward to (today).”
Redfield, which was led by Cooper Hainy who had three hits including a triple and drove in two, will face familiar foe Groton in the first elimination contest at noon today.
Redfield has won all four meetings against Groton, but Gregg said none of that matters now.
“I think you take all records out of play. What we’ve done against them, I doubt they really care,” Gregg said. “They’re going to come and try to beat us. Obviously, we want to do the same (to them). It’s simple, the winner plays another game, the loser goes home. It should be an interesting match up.”
Redfield 101 010 0 – 3 6 4
Tabor 201 011 x – 5 8 1
Keaton Rohlfs, Owen Osborn (5) and Christian DeYoung, Rohlfs (5); Nolan Carda, Trent Herrboldt (7) and Nolan Dvorak. 2B – Tabor, Kaleb Kubal. 3B – Redfield, Cooper Hainy.
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