Greiner’s heroics rescue Redhawks

North Tama thwarts AGWSR’s comeback for first-round triumph in walk-off fashion

North Tama’s Adam Greiner, far right, is congratulated by fellow senior Austin Unker after Greiner’s hit drove in Logan Rausch as the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday’s Class 1A District 7 baseball game against AGWSR at J.L. Lister Field in Traer. The Redhawks won 6-5. –Photo by Noah Rohlfing

What looked to be a routine victory after four innings for North Tama baseball had rapidly become a tense, pressure-packed battle heading into the bottom of the seventh inning last Saturday night.

A 5-0 lead for the Redhawks became a 5-5 tie game, and with two outs in the inning, Adam Greiner stepped up to the plate with his goal crystal clear. The senior knew a single would drive home Logan Rausch to win the game for the Redhawks against AGWSR.

When he felt the crack of the bat, he knew it had a chance. The ground ball snuck through into the outfield and Rausch beat the throw home to seal a walk-off 6-5 victory for North Tama over the Cougars and advance to the second round of Class 1A District 4 play.

North Tama moves to 16-9 on the season while AGWSR ends the year 9-14.

Gabe Kopriva was on the mound for North Tama and while the senior allowed a hit in each of the first two innings and hit the opening batter of the game, he kept the Cougars off the scoresheet. In the bottom of the second inning, the Redhawks took an early 2-0 lead and landed the first punch of the night. After another scoreless inning for AGWSR, the Redhawks capitalized on a couple of wild pitches and scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to open up a 5-0 advantage.

North Tama’s Adam Greiner, center, makes contact on what would prove to be the game-winning hit, driving in Logan Rausch in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Redhawks to a 6-5 victory over AGWSR in Saturday’s Class 1A District 7 baseball game in Traer. –Photo by Noah Rohlfing

“I was feeling good, I felt we had some insurance runs and we needed them,” coach Dan Kopriva said. “We dropped a couple of fly balls. The one that Kolt [Knaack] had in right field, I knew it was gonna be tough. Adam, it slipped through his glove but he got a chance at redemption and I’m really happy for him.”

No runs were scored in the fourth inning, but in the top of the fifth errors and solid connections from the Cougar lineup brought them right back into the game. Gabe’s pitch count started to rise and with the score 5-3, it was not a comfortable gap anymore.

Devin McKinley entered the action as a relief pitcher in the top of the seventh after Gabe’s six inning run on the mound. Gabe allowed four runs (one earned) and five hits while he struck out 10 opponents.

AGWSR capitalized on the feeling that North Tama was getting a little tight and scored two to tie it up at 5-5. McKinley allowed one run and one hit, striking out one batter.

So, the Redhawks were left reeling. Now, they had to score to win and to advance to the second round.

North Tama head coach Dan Kopriva, left, yells instructions for baserunner Logan Rausch, right, as AGWSR catcher Kaden Abbas awaits the throw home during the seventh inning of Saturday’s game in Traer. The throw short-hopped Abbas as Rausch slid safely across as the game-winning run. –Photo by Noah Rohlfing

A lineout from Kolt Knaack was followed by Michael Schrier. Schrier singled, but was then forced out in a fielders’ choice with Rausch at the plate.

And so up stepped Greiner — who delivered when it mattered most to push the Redhawks across the finish line.

“That’s what baseball’s all about, having fun with your friends,” Greiner said. “I knew it was a big moment, I knew all I needed was a base hit to win it.”

The Redhawks had five hits — Schrier, Greiner, McKinley, Austin Unker and Ryan Hosek recorded one hit each. McKinley drove in two runs.

The Redhawks were set to take on the Hudson Pirates (9-18) at home at J.L. Lister Field on Tuesday, July 5, beginning at 5:00 p.m. for round two of the Class 1A postseason playoffs.

Starting pitcher Gabe Kopriva lets one loose from the mound against AGWSR on Saturday, July 2, on J.L. Lister Field in Traer. –Photo by Noah Rohlfing

Further coverage of the Redhawks’ postseason including the July 5 game will be available both online as it unfolds this week and in next week’s print edition of the Telegraph.