No. 2 Sabers stun 3-time champion Blue Devils at state tournament
By PERRY BELL Knoxville Journal-Express
DES MOINES —
It is never easy to knock off a defending state champion, regardless of sport.
That was the task at hand for the Twin Cedars Sabers as they made their second appearance at the state baseball tournament Friday.
Twin Cedars took on Martensdale-St.Mary’s, winners of the past three state baseball titles in Class 1A.
Coach Matt Miller’s Sabers had all the key ingredients in place to pull off the win over the Blue Devils. The Sabers had strong pitching and defense to go along with some timely hitting to pull out a hard earned 4-1 win in nine innings.
The pitching was handled brilliantly by sophomore Otis Roby. He worked all nine innings to collect the win. Roby gave up just five hits in the contest, while striking out seven and walking just one.
The defense of the Sabers was nearly flawless, as they committed one error, and it didn’t hurt them.
Add in the fact that Twin Cedars catcher Hunter Embray threw out two Blue Devil runners attempting to steal along with a stellar catch in centerfield in the seventh inning by Brent Parker, the Sabers had it rolling defensively.
The Blue Devils entered the contest with six runners with 20 or more steals for the season. They were 0-for-2 against the gun of an arm displayed by Embray.
Parker’s catch in the bottom of the seventh robbed Dylan Gibson of extra bases.
Parker went back on the ball, drifted a little to his right and he fell to his knees while making the acrobatic catch, that eventually sent the game to extra innings.
The timely hitting was enough to led the Sabers to victory.
The Sabers scored a run in the top of the fifth as Eric Clark hit a single and scored on a single to right field off the bat of Coy Moore.
Moore’s hit came after Collin Still had moved Clark to second base.
The Blue Devils tied the game at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the fifth as Luke Anctil reached with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Pinchrunner Alex Kim scored the run on a hit by Garrett Gehringer.
The game remained scoreless the rest of the way, until the ninth when the Sabers scored three runs on four hits.
Eric Clark picked up his third hit of the night for the Sabers as he ripped a single to open the ninth.
Still followed with a sacrifice bunt that pushed Clark to second.
Levi Jones hit a ball to third that was thrown away for a two-base error that scored Clark for the go-ahead run.
Jones scored from second on a single by Coy Moore for a 3-1 lead.
That hit chased Martensdale starting pitcher Eddy Kraber, who up until the ninth, had allowed just one Saber run on five hits.
Trent Verwers came on in the relief, but the Sabers tacked on another run as Moore scored following a single by Embray and an intentional walk to Corey Harrell that loaded the bases.
Brent Parker collected an infield single that made the final 4-1.
The Sabers still had to hold the Blue Devils in the bottom of the ninth and despite a few heart-pumping moments by the Saber faithful, Roby got the job done with help by his defense.
Gage Gavin opened the bottom of the ninth with a walk, the only one allowed by Roby all night long.
After Verwers was out on a tapper back to the mound. Kraber followed with a single that put runners on the corners.
Tanner Foster popped out to second for the second out in the ninth and the Sabers started to celebrate after Dylan Gibson ended the game with a fly ball that was caught in right field.
Twin Cedars had nine hits in the game compared to five for the Blue Devils.
Clark had three hits while Moore and Roby each collected two.
The win put the Sabers at 36-2 overall and into a semifinal meeting against top-ranked Mason City Newman Catholic. The game will be played Thursday, Aug. 1, at noon at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Martensdale-St. Mary’s finishes the season at 30-10.