Cale Reicks produces walk-off winner for Turkey Valley in district quarterfinals

Trojans respond after East Buchanan tied the game in the 7th

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JESUP – Turkey Valley sophomore Cale Reicks said he hasn’t hit his best this season.

Last year, his statistics were better, but he produced when the Trojans needed him most.

Reicks singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to score Walker Leibold with the winning run in an 8-7 win over East Buchanan in a Class 1A District 7 quarterfinal Tuesday night at Jesup High School.

“I knew this game would mean a lot and every swing mattered,” Reicks said. “I came through with a hit when it mattered.”

The inning opened with Leibold’s double to right-center field. He advanced to third on Cody Hackman’s ground out. A strikeout brought Reicks to the plate with Turkey Valley (13-21) trying to prevent extra innings.

With two strikes, Reicks attempted to foul off the pitch, protecting the plate and maintaining the count. The result turned out to be much better.

“It just happened to be there,” Reicks said. “I just stuck my bat out. I didn’t intend to actually hit it far.”

Turkey Valley Coach Dan Stepan said he saw what Reicks could do as a freshman, tallying 35 hits, 18 RBIs and hitting .327. He had confidence in Reicks, who entered the game with 30 hits and 13 RBIs.

“He’s kind of a clutch kid,” Stepan said. “Put the bat on the ball with two strikes and see if the defense can make a play. It was good enough to get over the infield and that’s all you needed there.”

East Buchanan (11-19) erased a two-run deficit in its last at-bat. Ryan Kremer reached second on a hit to right-center field. Griffin Cabalka, who finished with four hits and six RBIs, smacked a double, bringing in Kremer. Cabalka scored on Ryan Schmitt’s two-out double, tying the game, 7-7.

The Trojans ran the spectrum of emotions, starting the seventh with a 7-5 lead and needing one out to end it in the top to being a strike from extra innings. Leibold’s hit provided a spark.

“That was perfect,” Reicks said. “We needed that.”

Evan Busta threw a complete game, improving to 6-5 this season. He had bookend strikeouts in the seventh, showing toughness to strand the go-ahead run in scoring position.

“He’s been pitching really well down the stretch,” Stepan said. “They did a good job of hitting the ball. He was able to get out of the seventh inning there, keep it tied and give us an opportunity.”

Turkey Valley needed an earlier rally after the Buccaneers jumped to a 5-0 lead on one in the first and Cabalka’s grand slam over the left-field fence in the second.

The Trojans answered with six runs to take the lead in their half. Wyatt Blazek led off with an infield single and scored on Leibold’s bunt single that resulted in an errant throw. Hackman followed with a two-run double and scored on a Reicks single. Riley Schmitt added an RBI double and Mason Goerend drew a bases-loaded walk to cap the scoring.

“That was huge,” said Reicks, who had an RBI double in the third. “The hardest part is coming back from a deficit like that. We did it. We rallied some hits together, and just came back.”

Stepan said he sat with East Buchanan Coach Jake VanScoyoc at an all-district meeting and discussed the upcoming game, noting each team could have a big inning and a win could depend on the others. They were right.

“We made enough plays to win there,” Stepan said. “We had no errors on defense and that’s outstanding. Our pitcher threw strikes and didn’t walk a whole lot of people. We swung it well enough and got the ball in play well enough to win.”

BIG INNING POWERS JESUP

Eighth-ranked Jesup battered Postville for nine runs in the final inning for a 12-0 victory in five innings in a Class 1A District 7 quarterfinal at Jesup.

The J-Hawks exploded in the fifth. Andrew Mattson ended the game with his second home run of the season, hitting a grand slam over the left-field fence. Ethan Wyant had an RBI single and Blake Frush added a two-run single in the inning.

Ben Hummel recorded a shutout for his seventh win, which leads Jesup (25-7).

The J-Hawks host Turkey Valley in a district semifinal Thursday, starting at 7 p.m.

Postville dropped to 1-25.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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