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4-run first inning lifts Tabor at state amateur tourney

Tabor’s Chris Sutera, left, and Lance Ranek dive for a fly ball against Clear Lake during the first game of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Wednesday night at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

The Bluebirds use the saying "get on the gas pedal" heading into their games.

Tabor put the saying into reality early in its first-round game of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament on Wednesday evening at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. Tabor scored four runs in the first inning and got out to a 7-1 lead in the third en route to defeating Clear Lake 10-3.

"Everybody wants a good start," pitcher Jon Vavruska said. "(Clear Lake pitcher Trevor Cassels) had control issues and there were a couple key hits that gave us runs."

The Bluebirds (11-8) move into the second round at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The contest began with three consecutive walks by Cassels, followed by an RBI single by Rob Keppen and a two-RBI double by Jason Humpal to lift Tabor's lead to 3-0 with no outs. The Bluebirds got more help from Cassels as he walked in another run.

Cassels allowed three more runs over the next two innings to give the Bluebirds breathing room heading into the final six frames.

"We had zeros up there after that third inning," Clear Lake manager Don Cassels said, adding the field was in good condition after the Mitchell Baseball Association and the city kept the infield covered Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon due to rain. "We didn't get settled in. We had walks and they were able to get a few hits, and we weren't able to prevent them from getting those runs early on."

Clear Lake scored one run in the first, third and fifth innings, but Tabor added three runs in the top of the ninth to bring its lead to 10-3.

The Bluebirds, who had eight hits and two errors, secured its win in the ninth with the help of a double play.

Leading the way offensively for Tabor was Doug Vanacek, going 2-for-3 with three walks and an RBI. Pick-up player Jake Weier had two RBIs and two runs scored, while Nate Kloucek recorded a hit and two runs in the win.

Vanacek also earned the win on the mound, recording seven strikeouts in five innings. Vavruska threw in relief, striking out four in the final four innings.

"I was happy with the way I threw," Vanacek said. "You can always do better, but it's a good start. Hopefully, we can keep it going."

Cassels suffered the loss, giving up 10 runs, eight earned, and striking out 11 in 8 1/3 innings. Cassels and Zachary Toben each recorded two hits, while Chris Stoebner and Josh Stickland each had a hit and an RBI for the Slough Sharks, who had five hits and five errors.

Clear Lake ends its season 9-10.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.