Hanson's hot bat sparks No. 3 Gilbert in substate semifinal win over Harlan; Tigers prevail, 7-1

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Tucker Hanson is getting it done when it matters most for the third-ranked Gilbert baseball team.

Hanson entered Monday's Class 3A substate semifinal game against Harlan having gone 4-for-6 at the plate in his previous two games. Hanson took it up a notch against the Cyclones, going 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot in the order with two doubles, one triple and three runs scored in a 7-1 Gilbert victory.

Gilbert's Tucker Hanson hits the ball for a double during the third inning of the Tigers' 7-1 Class 3A substate semifinal victory over Harlan at the Gilbert Middle School Baseball Field Monday at Gilbert. Hanson went 3-for-4 with three runs to help the No. 3 Tigers advance to the substate finals Wednesday against Winterset at Gilbert.

"Tucker has been on," Gilbert head coach Jeremy Eldred said. "I've seen him in batting practice the last week and a half and he's coming on hot right at the right time."   

Gilbert had tremendous energy right from the start thanks to Hanson. He led off the game with a triple to left field and scored on a wild pitch to quickly put the Tigers up 1-0.

"That's been my job the whole year," Hanson said. "Putting the ball in play, getting stuff started and letting the guys behind me take care of the rest."

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Hanson doubled in his second at-bat in the third inning. He eventually scored on yet another wild pitch, taking off as soon as the ball had dribbled far enough away from Harlan catcher Austin Schumacher for him to slide safely into home plate for a 2-0 Tiger lead.

"I've always been an instinctive player," Hanson said. "When that ball is in the dirt I'm ready to go."

Hanson also led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a double to the gap in the right-center field. Eli Eldred drove him in with a two-run single that also scored Nick Chasey, giving Gilbert a 5-1 cushion.

Gilbert pushed two more insurance runs across in the sixth. Trey Hansen reached on an infield hit and scored on a wild pitch, and Easton Johnson added an RBI grounder.

Gilbert's Trey Hansen slides safely into third base as Harlan's third baseman Quinn Koesters misses the overthrown ball during the sixth inning of the Class 3A substate semifinal baseball at Gilbert Monday. The Tigers won 7-1.

The Tigers finished the night with six hits. They also drew eight walks as a team to provide more than enough support for pitchers Jacob Papesh and Sam Vanderpool.

Papesh allowed one unearned run on two hits with five strikeouts and three walks in five innings to get the win. He was feeling it early, retiring the first eight batters he faced.

"It started when we got here," Papesh said. "Coach had some good music going and I was just in the zone."

Vanderpool only gave up one hit and he had one strikeout with no walks in two innings of relief.

"It's huge to have these guys and the experience they have in the postseason," Jeremy Eldred said. "To have guys you know you can count on and their leadership out there, it's unbelievable. They're bulldogs out there, but a lot of that credit goes to our catcher Jake Shedarowich. He keeps them focused and he does a great job of handling our pitching staff."

Gilbert third baseman Easton Johnson (10) tags out Harlan's Ben Muenchrath after he and Tiger shortstop Nick Chasey got Muenchrath in a run down between second and third during the third inning of the 3A substate semifinal game at Gilbert Monday.

Harlan ended its season at 16-16. Franz Reiz gave up four runs in four innings as the losing pitcher and Joey Moser had an RBI single to account for the only Cyclone run.

Gilbert will take a 23-8 record into Wednesday's substate finals against Raccoon River Conference rival Winterset (21-11). The Huskies were an 11-7 winner over Denison-Schleswig in the semifinals Monday.

The Tigers beat the Huskies twice during the regular season. They won the first meeting by a 7-1 score and the rematch in a 1-0 pitcher's duel between Papesh and Winterset's Justin Hackett.

It will be Gilbert's last game at Gilbert Middle School Field. The Tigers are moving to the new field by the high school next season.

"It's special to be out here with these guys," Papesh said. "To be able to compete one more time here in Gilbert is going to feel real nice."

Gilbert and Winterset are set to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday.