Krietemeier’s bat, arm lift Reivers to win over Gordon
It had the makings of a slugfest.
Tanner Krietemeier, though, had other ideas.
After spotting himself a four-run lead with a first-inning grand slam, the sophomore pitcher for Iowa Western Community College showed what he’s got on the hill, too.
“Tanner’s Tanner,” Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said. “He challenged with the fastball and has a very good slider and was the equalizer. Rob Allison, my number one assistant, has sat and watched (Gordon’s) last three games and watched them hit the ball all over the ballpark and into the parking lot, and we had a pitching plan.”
Krietemeier silenced the top-hitting team in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, Gordon (Ga.) College, on a five-hit shutout, sending the top-ranked Reivers into the national championship game with a 10-0 victory.
“Just come out prepared, try to fill up the zone, get ahead early,” Krietemeier said of the plan. “The last time I pitched I was pretty wild, so I just tried to calm down and get ahead of the batters from the get-go.
“I actually had command of most of my pitches. My fastball I was able to locate pretty well, sometimes I didn’t have complete control. My slider, slider-curve, was actually working really well, and I was able to spot that up, so that was a good feeling.”
Krietemeier, who had a rough start on Saturday against San Jacinto (Texas) College-North, allowed only three Gordon base runners to get as far as third base in the six-inning game and never gave the Highlanders, who had scored 42 runs in their first three games, a chance.
“He was really good. He had all of his stuff working tonight,” Gordon coach Travis McClanahan said. “He’s a top-notch guy, and that giving up the four-run bomb just killed us in the beginning.
“You know, 0-2, and we’re going down the middle of the plate with it back-to-back-to-back pitches and didn’t make an adjustment off that, and the guy finally hit a home run. That just put us on our heels big-time.”
Krietemeier walked two and struck out six for the Reivers (61-6), who got the bye into the championship game based on the number of games played. Iowa Western, after losing to San Jacinto in the tournament opener, is 4-1; Gordon and San Jacinto are both 3-1.
Iowa Western loaded the bases in the first inning on an error, a single and a hit batter. With two out, Krietemeier, who is from Castle Rock, fouled off three pitches after falling behind 0-2.
Turns out, that’s just what he needed.
“I fouled off I don’t know how many pitches, but once I did that, I was able to pick up the pitches a little better,” Krietemeier said. “I just had my hands back on the changeup and was able to hit it out.”
His home run to right field gave him a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, and Damek Tomscha added a two-run home run in the third. Three more runs came across in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Tomscha and Levi Meyer, a two-out walk to Krietemeier and a swinging bunt by Alex Greer.
Meyer drove home another run in the seventh for a 10-0 lead on a towering double to left-center after Tomscha, who singled, doubled and hit his first home run of the tournament, walked to lead off the inning.
“I was definitely pressing I’d say, chasing balls in the first that I usually don’t,” Tomscha said of his slow start.
He was hitting .133 entering the game, but going 3 for 3 boosted his tournament average to .278.
“I wasn’t in the right approach I’ve been in all season,” Tomscha said. “Today I got a little bit loose, and our hitting coach (Allison) helped me out a little bit and told me what I was doing wrong.”
Gordon had a couple of chances early to get something going, but left Christian Davila stranded at third after a two-out triple when Grant Massey struck out. Chance Bridges doubled in the fourth and moved to third on a groundout, but Jody Stone and Davila both struck out. Massey was stranded at third in the fifth inning.
“We got taken behind the woodshed today, on the mound and at the plate,” McClanahan said. “We didn’t pitch good, we had bad ABs, we were on our heels on defense, and I think it all started right out of the first inning.”
Six of Iowa Western’s 10 hits were for extra bases — four doubles and two home runs.
It’s Iowa Western’s second title game in the past three years. The Reivers won the JUCO championship in 2010, becoming the first team from the Northern District to win the title. That’s not lost on Rardin.
“It never gets old,” he said. “This is only my second championship final. What I was proud of more than anything … the Northern team, the ‘token’ Northern team … when Bob Symonds was at Triton (Ill.) he got to two of these finals, and I don’t know what other Northern team has in a very, very long time.”
Symonds, who retired from Triton in 2004, now lives in Council Bluffs. He and his wife rode the train to Grand Junction and have been at the tournament all week. The man who coached Kirby Puckett at JUCO hasn’t been back since 2000.
“I’m very respectful of Bob and what he did at Triton for 34 years and being a Northern team and doing this,” Rardin said. “It’s fun.”