DES MOINES — Tiger Terpstra is headed to Des Moines Area Community College this coming fall. He’s going into the school’s pre-nursing program, to be specific.
This was the final competitive baseball game the kid will play. His career concluded with a defensive gem that gave his team a state championship.
Quite the way to go out for the Centerville left fielder, who recovered from an initial misstep and ran down a drive just shy of the warning track that appeared destined to allow Iowa City Regina to tie Saturday afternoon’s Class 2A title tilt. Instead the Regals suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss.
“Kind of crappy,” said Regina’s Mitchell Gahan. “But it is what it is.”
Let’s back up a step and explain how Terpstra’s catch became so important. Top-seeded Regina (29-8) trailed by three going to the bottom of the seventh inning but put two guys on with two outs.
Ryan Schott then smoked a pitch from Centerville starting pitcher Daniel Hargrave into the left-center gap and to the wall to score a pair and suddenly put the tying run in scoring position. That brought up three-hole hitter Trent Hoogerwerf, whom Hargraves started off with two curveballs for strikes.
Hargraves came back with another bender on the inner half that Hoogerwerf pulled with authority toward the left-field corner. Terpstra took one step in, realized his mistake and sprinted back and to his right, reaching out and snagging the ball.
Game over instead of game tied.
“Yeah, I took a step in, thinking I was going to have to come in,” Terpstra said. “Then I thought ‘Shoot, that ball is hit farther than I thought.’ So I had to go back a little bit. I reached out for it, made the catch, and it was awesome.”
Not so awesome for Regina.
“Just a little bit short,” said Regina’s Ryne Schooley. “Trent really hit that ball hard. They made a nice play there, were in no doubles (defense), and he made the play. I thought that ball was going off the wall, to be honest. Also the left fielder came in on it, so I thought he was going to burn him. But he made a great play, caught the ball.”
Hargraves outdueled Regina ace Gahan to give Centerville (27-7) its third state championship, its first since 2008. The tall right-hander (10-1) used his curve extensively to keep Regals hitters off balance and off the scoreboard most of the game.
Centerville scored an unearned run against Gahan (9-3) in the top of the first, added a run in the fifth and two more biggies in the sixth for a 4-1 lead.
“I could have been better,” said Gahan, who allowed six hits and three earned runs, striking out three. “It kind of took me an inning or two to get into a rhythm. They took advantage of it.”
“We did what we’ve done for the last few years now. We fought to the last pitch,” said Regina Coach Jeff Pacha. “Centerville earned that one. That’s a heck of a team, they deserve to be state champions. I give them a lot of credit. Extremely proud of our guys and what they accomplished. They gave it everything they had, fought to the very end.”
Regina was seeking to become the first baseball state champion from Iowa City. Instead that honor will have to wait another year, at least.
“It will happen, yes,” Schooley said. “It has to happen.”
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