Pella High’s 3-2, eight-inning win over Centerville in Friday night’s Class 3A District Baseball Tournament opener was greeted by cheers and a little confusion from the fans of the Little Dutch.
After a balk by Centerville’s Jose Marin landed Schyler Kane on first base, the senior advanced to second and eventually third base on passed balls; while clean-up hitter Paul Anderson walked and took an uncontested steal at second base to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Then it happened. For the second time in the inning, Marin broke his motion on the mound, and the subsequent balk call sent Kane home from third for the walk-off win in the bottom of the eighth.
The unconventional ending took away some of the attention from what was otherwise a brilliant pitching duel between Pella’s Jacob Gleason and Centerville’s Richard England.
“Jacob did a great job of just controlling the game from the pitcher’s mound. He just did a nice job of keeping his composure, fighting through some things that maybe he wasn’t always in control of,” said Pella High head coach Al Vasher. “Whether it was the calls – the balls and strikes – or his fielders, or the hitting – he just pitched his game. He did a magnificent job of staying in the moment and really fighting through some of that stuff.”
Gleason went all eight innings, throwing 151 pitches that resulted in five hits, three walks and fourteen strikeouts for the junior hurler. England was dominant early on, finishing with ten strikeouts and just four hits allowed through 6 ⅓ innings of work.
The pitching of Gleason helped Pella overcome the two runs they spotted the Big Red in the opening frame, when a pair of infield innings allowed two Centerville runs to plate. The Little Dutch, meanwhile, finally broke through in the sixth inning with two runs of their own, courtesy of a Ryan Shull single, a throwing error, and a sacrifice fly by Paul Anderson.
The victory guarantees Pella a winning record, as they improved to 18-16 overall. They’ll face Chariton Monday evening for the District Final in Knoxville.