Courier sports staff
---- — MUSCATINE — The matchup everyone expected is set. Once again, Iowa Western and Indian Hills will play in the winners bracket game of the Region XI baseball tournament as the lone two teams left without a loss today.
Getting to that point, however, was not even close to being that easy.
After watching the fourth-ranked Reivers have to battle to the late innings to pull out a 7-4 win over upset-minded Muscatine in the opening game of the tournament, Indian Hills found themselves in the same kind of tussle against Marshalltown. Facing unbeaten left-hander Cory Ceponis, the Falcons struggled to come up with a big hit for most of the day and were still seeking something big to erase a 3-2 deficit in the bottom of the eighth.
That's when sophomore Taylor Ostrich stepped up. The Falcon first baseman followed up a leadoff single by Junior Santos with a tying double before scoring the first go-ahead run of the tournament for IHCC two batters later on Tyler Hermann's sacrifice fly as the Falcons beat the Tigers late, 4-3, in game two at Tom Bruner Field.
Ceponis allowed just four hits to the Falcons in a complete-game effort for the Tigers, striking out eight batters over eight innings of work. IHCC took advantage of some control issues by the freshman hurler, drawing four walks and getting two batters on by getting hit by a pitch, which led to the Falcons' first two runs of the game.
Indian Hills (32-20) will take on No. 4 (DI) Iowa Western (42-12) at 11 a.m. in the first of what could be three games today. The defending two-time national champions Reivers had to rally themselves in their postseason opener on Friday as Muscatine took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning before Iowa Western tied the score heading into the eighth, where a key two-out hit by David Parrett sparked a three-run rally in a 7-4 win over the Cardinals.
The first elimination game of the regional tournament took place to end play on Friday. Marshalltown (24-21) stayed alive by shutting out Muscatine, 6-0, to end the Cardinals' season at 10-37. The Tigers will face the loser of the IHCC-Iowa Western contest today at 2 p.m. Should Marshalltown win, they would face the winner of the IHCC-Iowa Western game at 5 p.m. A loss by the Tigers at 2 would extend the tournament to a championship game Sunday at Noon.
Region XI Baseball Tournament
Indian Hills 4, Marshalltown 3
Marshalltown 011 010 0 — 3 7 1
Indian Hills 010 102 x — 4 4 1
Marshalltown battery — Cory Ceponis (L, 7-1) (8IP, 4H, 4R, 3ER, 8K, 4BB, 2HBP), Ty Russell catching.
2B — William Salas.
Hits — Justin Fogler 2-4, Daryl Blaskovich 1-3, Russell 1-3, Andrew Utterback 1-3, Bennett Mann 1-4, Salas 1-4.
RBI — Fogler, Mann, Russell.
Runs — Blaskovich, Salas, Utterback. Indian Hills battery — Jake Stalzer (4 2/3IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 5K, 3BB), Matt Lashlee (2 1/3IP, 2K), Jose Marin (W, 2-3) (IP, K) and Derek Kawlewski (S, 2) (IP), Kevin Valera catching.
2B — Taylor Ostrich.
Hits — Edgar Lebron 1-4, Ostrich 1-4, Dario Polanco 1-4, Junior Santos 1-4.
RBI — Tyler Hermann, Lebron, Ostrich. Runs — Joel Booker, Hermann, Ostrich, Santos.