District Baseball: Le Mars comes back for 6-5 win over Spencer
Spencer had Le Mars down early and were poised to upset the Lakes Conference champions in Monday's 3A District final but the Bulldogs chipped away at a 5-0 lead and advanced to Substate with a 6-5 win.
Spencer, playing as the home team, jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Bulldog starter Parker Rolfes in the bottom of the first inning. Matthew Klemme led off with a single, was sacrificed over by Weston Glienke and was driven in on a Blake Seier single. Seier and Austin Allen, who reached base on a hit by pitch, scored on a Chase Habben double for the early lead.
Glienke commanded the first three innings on the mound for the Tigers, allowing just a single through the first 10 batters.
Spencer added two more runs in the bottom of the third, and knocked Rolfes out of the game after three consecutive hits to start the inning. Glienke, who doubled to start the third, scored on an Allen single. Tayler Tatman scored on a single by Habben, the freshman's third RBI of the game.
Le Mars ace Chris Eckstaine relieved Rolfes, and allowed the Habben RBI-single, but settled in and shut down the Tigers over the next four innings.
The Bulldog bats started in the fourth with back-to-back singles to start the inning. After another single and a walk and one run in, Dayton Rand delivered a two-out single, which drove in two more runs. Le Mars would score four runs in the fourth.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the fourth and Le Mars used the momentum to plate two more runs off three singles to start the inning. The one-run lead the Bulldogs gained in the fifth would ultimately stand. Spencer was only able to reach twice (hit-by-pitch and error) over the final 17 batters Eckstaine faced.
"I was excited we came out loose and ready to play," Spencer coach Brian Dirkx said. "We played some great defense and Weston pitched a great game. When they (Le Mars) got guys on, they made things happen. They kept chipping away."
Habben went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Seier was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and Allen was 1-for-3 with a run scored and RBI. Spencer totaled seven hits on the night. Matthew Klemme and Tatman each singled and scored a run, and Glienke doubled and scored.
Glienke took the loss after six runs in six innings, giving up eight hits, walking two and striking out five. Tatman relieved Glienke with one runner on in the seventh and didn't allow a hit or run, while striking out one.
Eckstaine earned the win with five innings of relief, allowing no runs on two hits and he struck out eight. Hunter Rowe went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Le Mars (28-6) advances to play Bishop Heelan in the Substate Final on Wednesday night.
The Tigers finish the season 16-14.
"I couldn't be prouder of the way we came together as a team, especially in the last three weeks," Dirkx said. "We were kind of on a roller coaster there for while but the kids believed in our plan. We challenged them about three weeks ago. We had to get on some kids. We had to become a more competitive team, and we did. The kids responded. It was fun to watch this team grow this year."
Spencer graduated two seniors from the 2012 team -- Blake Seier and Tayler Tatman. Tatman was named First Team Lakes Conference and Second Team All District as an infielder.