MONTICELLO — Ryan Manternach and Jacob Manternach have an exceptional pitcher-catcher bond.
The Monticello seniors have played side-by-side on the baseball field since participating in youth T-ball leagues over a decade ago. Now, the cousins are the battery that has the Class 2A eighth-ranked Panthers humming along to the tune of 15 wins in a row.
“We’ve got a lot of years under our belts together,” Jacob Manternach said after Monticello swept both games of a River Valley Conference baseball doubleheader, 3-0 and 13-12, against previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Cascade Monday night at Dailey Field. “I know what works for him and he knows what I do. It just kind of clicks for us.”
Things clicked just fine for the Manternach cousins in the first game. After allowing a single to begin the contest, Ryan Manternach (5-0) held the Cougars hitless the rest of the way and retired 21 of the final 23 batters.
“I was able to hit my spots with the fastball and I had good defense behind me making all the plays,” said Ryan Manternach, a Luther signee who walked one batter and struck out eight in the seven-inning complete game. “It was good.”
Jacob Manternach — a 2A first team all-state selection last season and Iowa Central signee — drove in two runs in the 3-0 victory.
The nightcap was a shootout. Monticello rallied from deficits of 3-2 and 9-6 with a five-run fifth inning. Cascade (23-2, 13-2) tied the game in both the sixth and seventh innings, but a ground ball to the shortstop by Monticello junior Avery Martensen with one out and the bases loaded scored Jacob Manternach with the winning run.
“Last year, we won a conference title and we had to go over there and we swept them,” Monticello Coach Josh Soper said. “It was a similar situation of where any time they scored, our guys answered right back. We talk about that all the time. Try to score first, extend leads and if we get behind or the other team scores, we need to answer back right away and take the momentum away.”
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Cascade senior Gannon O’Brien hit a grand-slam home run in the fourth inning of the second game that gave the Cougars a brief 8-6 lead. Senior Kyle Sperfslage hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning for Monticello and improved to 5-0 this seasnn on the pitching mound with two innings of relief.
Monticello hosts Durant on Tuesday, while Cascade entertains North Cedar this Thursday.
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