Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
WEST BURLINGTON — When a team hasn’t lost a game all season, it has to constantly get contributions across the lineup. Tuesday in a baseball game moved to Southeastern Community College due to rain and wet fields, Class 1A’s ninth-ranked New London Tigers shut out Van Buren County in a Southeast Iowa Super Conference South Division game 6-0.
Hecniel Rodriguez pitched six innings with six strikeouts, three hits and one walk. New London shortstop Kooper Schulte came to the mound in relief and set the Warriors down in order in the seventh inning.
First baseman Carter Allen reached base three times, stole two bases, scored once and batted in a run. Batting eighth in the order, Brenden Richey singled in two runs to give New London a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning. Center fielder Josh Catala drew a walk as the first batter of the game and scored. Walks and stolen bases followed.
“We probably should’ve had a 3-1 ballgame, but the first inning had too many high-stress pitches,” Van Buren County coach Chad Scott said. “(Warriors starting pitcher) Tyler Sprouse got out of it with one run but you pile up mental and physical mistakes, and you’re not gonna win a lot of ballgames.”
Then there is Tucker Gibbar. A catcher has a lot of responsibilities as the leader of the defense. Gibbar fulfilled those and more, especially in the second inning when Van Buren County’s Casey Yochum crunched a leadoff double.
A bunt attempt missed, and Yochum hurried back to second, but Gibbar’s throw from home was faster, and Yochum was out. “He tried to get that break on the bunt,” Gibbar said. “I just knew I had to put my best effort into it and I was able to throw him out.”
The batter struck out and in just seconds a prime scoring opportunity for the Warriors turned into nobody on and two out. Bailey Roen stepped to the plate and singled, which would have scored Yochum for a 1-1 game. Ryan Wolf’s single in the sixth inning was the next VBC hit.
“Playing a team like this will expose your weaknesses,” Scott said. “It is said baseball is a game of inches. The most important inches are between the ears.”
Gibbar ended the second inning with a rocket to Schulte who tagged Roen out in his attempt to steal second.
“I didn’t catch that pitch but I dropped down and blocked it and kept in front of me, so I saw he was halfway to second,” Gibbar said. “So I kind of took my time to make sure it was a good throw and threw him out.”
New London coach Brad Helmerson noted how his pitching staff “is doing an excellent job. has performedVan Buren is a tough good ballclub but when we get pitching performance tonight like this it makes things easier for us. Our whole pitching staff keeping us in games.
Just can’t say enough about Tucker to throw two guys out. It’s stuff like that shortens the game and we talk about that all the time.“
Beside Gibbar’s defense, he had two of New London’s six hits, stole two bases and scored a run on a passed ball to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead and singled in the sixth and final run in the seventh inning.
“My first two at bats, I did not execute well but the last two I think I did pretty good job,” Gibbar said. “I just made sure my contact was on point and I wasn’t trying to lift it, trying to stay on top of the ball and go the other way with it.”
“We want to keep scoring no matter the score,” Helmerson said.