Section 3A baseball: Falcons clinch section title with win over Wabasso

MILROY -- With a three-run lead, two outs and a man on first in the seventh inning of the Section 3A championship game against Wabasso on Thursday in Milroy, starting pitcher Taylor Bunting handed the ball off to Skyler Reddeman.

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Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove first baseman Trevor Pederson holds up the Section 3A championship plaque as he celebrates with teammates after the 5-2 victory over Wabasso on Thursday in Milroy. (Adam Watts / The Globe)

MILROY -- With a three-run lead, two outs and a man on first in the seventh inning of the Section 3A championship game against Wabasso on Thursday in Milroy, starting pitcher Taylor Bunting handed the ball off to Skyler Reddeman.

Bunting hit his pitch limit and it was up to his fellow senior to record the final out. It only took one batter. Ty Kemp hit a ground ball straight to shortstop Mitchell Wilhite, who flicked the ball over to Sam Hansen covering second for the final out. The Falcons defeated the Rabbits 5-2 to win the section championship and earn a spot in the state tournament.

“That’s all we asked him to do in the playoffs -- be ready in the bullpen and get one or two guys out,” RRC/W-WG head coach Derrick Jenniges said. “To be grown up enough to understand that’s the best way to help the team. That was a huge out.”

And after that final out the party started -- complete with hugging players, a water jug bath for Jenniges, and even a turkey. Yes, a turkey. The Falcons all celebrated and took pictures with their team mascot, Tom -- a stuffed turkey they have kept around since last year’s section tournament.

“We got a couple wins last year and it continued into this year, so we just decided to keep bringing the turkey,” said senior Cole Pankonin, who was 2-for-2 with a walk, a run, 2 RBIs and two stolen bases. “It doesn’t really match the Falcon, but it works.”


The middle of the lineup came up big for RRC/W-WG as it erased a 2-0 deficit in the third and added two more in the fourth.

Clean-up hitter Corey Maras knocked a single to right-center that drove in three-hole man, Pankonin, and Maras reached second on an error. Trevor Pederson then traded places with Maras, driving him in with a double to tie the game at 2.

“We got big hits from the guys that have been getting the big hits all year,” Jenniges said.

The following inning, Pankonin broke the game open with a line-drive single into centerfield that plated Evan Blomgren and Bunting to give the Falcons a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“I feel like I’m one of the leaders, I’ve got to come up when it matters,” Pankonin said.

Cole Jackson drove in Jordan Martius to added to the RRC/W-WG tally in the fifth and that was plenty of run support for starting pitcher.

Bunting was a little bit wild on the mound right away in the game -- his first three pitches were balls. But after Wabasso’s CJ Tice drove in Nick Ludwig and Kyle Jacobson to give the Rabbits a 2-0 lead, he locked in. He struck out two of the next three batters to escape the inning before more damage was done didn’t allow another run.

“My command wasn’t the best right away,” said Bunting, who gave up two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and four walks across six-and two-thirds to earn his 11th win of the season. “I wasn’t throwing many strikes, I was kind of in a slump. It was not my best game, but it got the job done. My guys behind me made a lot of plays. I didn’t get as many strikeouts as I usually do. It goes to show I’ve got plenty of talent behind me.”


The defensive talent showed up in the top of the fourth as the Falcons escaped a 1-out jam with runners on first and second with a heads-up play by Trevor Pederson. Nick Ludwig grounded to Hansen who made the easy throw to Willhite covering second to get the easy force. Willhite -- trying to turn the double play -- fired the ball to first, but it was low and Pederson couldn’t field it cleanly. Seeing Jayden Eis turning the corner around third, the first baseman recovered the ball and threw home where Martius applied the tag to complete the 4-6-3-2 double play to end the inning.

Now with a new challenge ahead of them, the Falcons’ coach says everything will be status quo as they head into the state tournament, which begins next Thursday in Jordan.

“We’ve played hundreds of baseball games together, so I don’t think we want to worry about doing something different,” Jenniges said. “We’re going to go through our practice routine just like we would any other day.”


Wabasso 020 000 0 -- 2 6 2

RRC/WWG 002 210 x -- 5 10 2

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