Sports

State baseball qualifier Pekin leads All-GTNS small school team

Coach, captain, two players from Panther squad

DAN BURTON
DAN BURTON
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The past baseball season for the area small schools was a mixed bag.

Of the nine teams in the area, only two had losing records and that was Winfield-Mt. Union and New London (9-12).

Keota had its best record in a number of years with the Eagles finishing at 15-6 under first-year coach Dakota McCombs.

Keota lost its first game of the postseason to state qualifier Pekin (17-9), which lost by a single run to state champion Sterling Newman Catholic in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.

Iowa Mennonite School, now Hillcrest Academy, finished second in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference with an 11-3 record (13-8 overall) to Mediapolis at 12-2. Pekin was third at 10-4 and Highland was fourth at 8-6, 13-11 overall.

In the SEISC South Division, Van Buren was second at 10-2 (14-8 overall) to state qualifier Central Lee’s 11-1. Cardinal was fourth at 6-6 (14-9 overall).

Mid-Prairie was third in a tough River Valley Conference South at 12-6 and 18-12 overall. The Golden Hawks finished behind first-place Wilton, which spent much of the season ranked No. 1, and second-place West Branch, which lost its first game at the Class 2A state tournament to eventual champion North Linn.

Listed below is the full list for the 2019 small school baseball team.

Coach

Curtis “Pi” Reighard

The Panther skipper led his Pekin squad to a 17-9 overall record and the school’s first state baseball tournament appearance in school history.

The Panthers are 81-44 over the last five seasons with not only winning records in each year, but a winning percentage of clopse to .650, which will keep most seasons interesting over the years.

Captain

Tanner Bainbridge, senior, Pekin

The top small school player once again after holding down the position in 2018, Bainbridge was the straw that stirred the state-tournament drink for the Panthers.

Bainbridge hit safely in each of the team’s five postseason games, going a combined 11 for 18 with three doubles, a triple, a home run and seven runs batted in.

For the season, the Panther senior hit safely 40 times in 79 at-bats for a .506 average, added seven hit-by-pitches and 15 walks drawn to raise his on-base percentage to .608 and collected nine doubles, two triples and five home runs to boost his slugging clip to .861. Bainbridge also scored 34 runs himself while driving in another 31 from the plate. With only six strikeouts on the year, the disciplined batter found a way to get on base and then stole an extra bag on 12 of his 13 attempts on the season.

Pitcher

Brad Tornow, junior, Mid-Prairie

Tornow was considered for GTNS team captain.

Tornow helped the Golden Hawks to an 18-12 overall record and a third-place 12-6 record in the River Valley Conference South.

Tornow hit .417 (which was sixth in the RVC South) with seven doubles, four triples (which led the division) and batted in 12 runs from his spot at the top of the order. His 43 hits and 103 at bats were both first in the division and his 32 runs scored were third. He struck out just seven times.

Tornow stole 21 bases in 23 attempts, good for sixth in the division.

On the mound, Tornow had a 7-0 record with an earned run average of 1.02. He fanned 102 in 55 innings pitched, which led the division, with just 12 walks. Opponents batted just .167 against him.

Pitcher

Colten Clarahan, freshman, Keota

Clarahan helped the Eagles to a 15-6 record, its best finish since 15-7 in 2011. Keota gave state-tournament-qualifier Pekin its toughest postseason game until the state tournament.

Clarahan had a 4-2 record in 11 appearances with an earned run average of 1.31. He struck out 56 and walked 17 in 42 2/3 innings pitched. Opponents batted .131 against him.

Clarahan’s .424 batting average was fourth in the SICL as was his .545 on base percentage. He drew 15 walks and only struck out three times.

Catcher

Shae Summerfield, junior, New London

It’s always great to have a slugger who can also hold his own behind the plate, and much like the New London softball team, the baseball team has the perfect fit.

Summerfield led the team with a .429 average this year, hit eight doubles, a triple and a homerun, and finished the season with 18 RBIs.

He ended the year with the top OPS on the team, leading in on base percentage with .526 and slugging .635.

Summerfield’s leadership was also key to a Tiger team that fielded a squad that was almost 50 percent freshmen.

Infield

Justin Leonard, senior, Highland

Leonard helped the Huskies to a 13-11 record this season.

Leonard led the Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division in batting average (.517), was second in slugging percentage (.828), second in home runs (3), third in doubles (9) and struck out just seven times in 58 at bats. He was second on the Huskies in runs batted in with 18.

Leonard had a 3-2 record, pitching 24 2/3 innings with a 2.27 earned run average, 22 strikeouts, 11 walks and an opponents’ batting average of .219.

Infield

Cameron Honomichl, senior, Cardinal

The lone Comet on the list, Honomichl is headed to college to play ball after a great career at Cardinal.

The senior hit .353 in 68 at-bats with 24 hits that included three doubles, one triple and two home runs. On top of that, Honomichl drew 15 walks and was hit by one pitch that rose his on-base percentage to .471 and the six extra-base hits increased his slugging percentage to .515. Honomichl drove in a team-high 25 runs while scoring 18 times and going 1 for 1 on stolen base attempts.

Infield

Ryan Wolf, sophomore, Van Buren

The young infielder led the Warriors in several categories, including at-bats, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, fewest strikeouts, batting average and slugging percentage.

In 69 at-bats, Wolf hit safely 29 times for a .420 average, including eight doubles and two home runs that boosted his slugging clip to .623 and with 11 walks drawn and one hit-by-pitch he raised his OBP to an even .500. Wolf drove in 26 RBIs to go with the 12 runs he scored and managed to successfully steal a base on both of his attempts.

The most remarkable stat may be the sophomore striking out just three times in 69 at-bats on the season.

On the mound, Wolf was 2-2 in four appearances and recorded a 6.35 E.R.A. over 14-plus innings with 10 strikeouts and 12 walks issued while allowing just a .203 average from his 79 batters faced.

Infield

Jacob Plecker, senior, Van Buren

The second-best pitcher and hitter on the Warriors statistically, there is no argument against Plecker place on this team.

With a .412 average in 68 at-bats, the Van Buren senior hit safely 28 times including seven doubles and one home run that raised his slugging percentage to .559. He also drew 12 walks and was hit by three pitches that rose his on-base percentage to .518. Plecker drove in 10 runs and scored another 26 himself while going 6 for 6 in stolen base attempts over the season.

On the mound, the recent graduatte was 3-2 in eight appearances over 34 2/3 innings with just 17 earned runs allowed for a 2.75 average. Plecker also had 27 strikeouts against just seven walks issued.

Outfield

Caleb Comstock, senior, Pekin

A stud for the state tournament Panthers and the football team’s quarterback, Comstock contributed to many years of sports for Pekin.

The recent graduate had a team-high 90 at-bats that resulted in 39 hits for a .433 average with 12 doubles boosting his slugging percentage to .567. Comstock was hit by two pitches and drew 14 walks which increased his on-base percentage to an impressive .514. The smart baserunner scored 30 times or a third of the times he stepped into the box and was a force on the base paths with 11 successful steal attempts in as many tries.

On the mound, Comstock was 3-1 in nine appearances with 32 1/3 innings logged. He allowed just 12 earned runs for a 2.60 ERA with 31 strikeouts against just 17 walks. On top of that, his opponents converted just .174 of their at-bats successfully, basically recording one hit for every six at-bats or two innings of play.

Outfield

Darius Whaley, senior, New London

Whaley may just be the ultimate utility man for New London boys sports. This four-sport athlete finished off a stellar year by leading the baseball team with 31 runs scored, an ideal stat to have for leadoff man.

Whaley hit .414 this season with eight doubles, two triples and 16 RBIs. He also led the squad in stolen bases, going 9 for 9.

Whaley was also the team’s most prominent pitcher, getting more innings on the mound than any of his teammates. He finished 2-3 with a 3.90 ERA and 31 strikeouts.

Utility

Dan Burton, senior, Highland

Burton patrolled everywhere for the Huskies, yet never made an error this season in 128 chances. He was the only Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division player with at least 35 chances not to commit an error.

Burton had a 4-1 record on the mound with 35 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings pitched. Opponents’ batting average was .250.

Burton batted .362 with a .450 on base percentage and .507 slugging percentage with five doubles, a triple and a home run. He struck out a team-low seven times. His 25 runs batted in were tied for sixth in the North.

He delivered a complete game in his final appearance with the Huskies, getting the postseason victory with three strikeouts, no walks and a single earned run.

Utility

Blake Bontrager, senior, Iowa Mennonite School

Bontrager helped IMS finish with a 13-8 record.

Bontrager was sixth in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division with a batting average of .415. His on base percentage of .506 was 10th. He hit six doubles (which was eighth in the division) and a home run while striking out just seven times. His 25 runs batted in were tied for sixth in the North.

On the mound, Bontrager had top 10 totals in the North in strikeouts (39) and innings pitched (35). He had a 4.8 earned run average and walked just 10 batters. Opponents batted .268 against him.

Utility

Kennan Winn, junior, Pekin

An all-around athlete with a year of high school left, Winn is on pace to give older brother Keaton a run for his money. (Keaton Winn was drafted last year by the San Francisco Giants).

The Panther standout had just 76 at-bats, but was effective, hitting .395 for average but drawing 13 walks and seven hit by pitches that rose his on-base percentage to .510 and with nine doubles and two home runs posted a .592 slugging mark. Winn also scored more than a third of the times he walked into the batters box, crossing home 27 times and driving in 29 RBIs from the dish. Another talented Panther baserunner, Winn nabbed all 10 of his stolen base attempts successfully and recorded two sacrifices as well.

On the mound, Winn was 1-1 in five starts and tossed only nine innings but held opponents to a .158 batting average and struck out 14 batters while walking the same number.

The All-GTNS team was selected by Doug Brenneman of the Washington Journal, Justin Webster of the Fairfield Ledger and Andy Krutsinger of the Mt. Pleasant News.