Division champs! Sweep at Cascade sets table for first title in 51 years

Number one in the River Valley Conference North Division are the Monticello Panthers, who wrapped up the outright title June 29. They are, first row from left: Hunter Kramer, Alex Kremer, Gavin Cooper, Connor Lambert, Kyle Sperfslage, Tyler Hospodarsky and Gage Jacobs. Second row: Mason Kraus, Ryan Manternach, Kirklen Kiburz, Chance Janssen, Andrew Mescher, Jacob Manternach, Wesley Henderson and Andrew Wall. Third row: assistant coaches Dale Sperfslage and Tyler Felton, Justin Recker, Avery Martensen, Kegan Arduser, Andrew Tjaden, Alex Nealson, Jeff Carlson and head coach Josh Soper. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Monticello pitcher Ryan Manternach (15) is congratulated by catcher Jacob Manternach at the end of the first Cascade game.

Avery Martensen of the Panthers beats a throw to third base in the first Cascade game.

Monticello’s Kyle Sperfslage (left) gets ready to put the tag on a Cascade runner in the second game June 26.

Monticello baseball players pile on one another after closing out the 10-0 win over Bellevue June 29. The win clinched the outright North Division title.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Monticello knocked off a nemesis, and made history in the process.

     A baseball doubleheader sweep at Cascade on Monday, June 26, not only represented a rare achievement on the home field of a traditional powerhouse, it also clinched at least a share of Monticello’s first baseball conference title of any kind since 1966.

     The wins at Cascade clinched at least a share of the River Valley Conference, North Division title.

     Three nights later, the Panthers whitewashed Bellevue 10-0 in five innings in the first game of a doubleheader, eliminating any chance of having to share the title. Monticello then won the second game 6-0. The Panthers came out of the week with records of 15-2 in conference play, 19-5 overall.

     “Fifty-one years is a long time,” Monticello coach Josh Soper said. “I’m really proud of the kids. This was a goal they set in the preseason, and they worked really hard to achieve this.”

     At Cascade, The Panthers rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win the first game 9-7, then rode the coattails of Jacob Manternach, whose top-of-the-eighth blast started a two-run inning as Monticello downed the Cougars 3-1 in the second game.

     “These were total team wins,” Soper said. “We came from behind in both games and never quit. We had a lot of contributions to earn this sweep over a great Cascade ballclub.”

     The heroes were numerous. Jacob Manternach hit a home run in each game, and in both cases they proved crucial. Jon Mootz had a pair of RBI doubles in the first game.

     Pitching was key as well. Tyler Hospodarsky pitched four big innings in relief during the first game, keeping the Panthers in it after they fell behind 5-0.

     Andrew Mescher pitched a strong seven innings in the nightcap, with no earned runs allowed, and Kyle Sperfslage worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning to save the Panthers’ 3-1 win.

     “We knew we were going to need every pitcher in this doubleheader, and all five of them were key to winning tonight,” Soper said.

     Defensively, third baseman Ryan Manternach snared a line shot in the bottom of the sixth for Cascade’s third out, likely preventing the go-ahead run from scoring.

     Monticello appeared to be in trouble in the first game when Cascade put up five runs in the bottom of the first inning. The score was still 5-0 after two innings.

     “Kegan (Arduser, starting pitcher) didn’t do a bad job pitching, but we just didn’t play good defense behind him,” Soper said. “But after that first inning we settled in and played good baseball the rest of the night.”

     Jacob Manternach’s first homer of the night, a two-run blast near the left field foul line, got things rolling for the Panthers in the top of the third. Avery Martensen followed with a double, Jon Mootz hit an RBI double, and Hospodarsky’s RBI ground out brought home Mootz to cut the Cascade lead to 5-4.

     The Cougars tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fourth to lead 7-4, but the Panthers came back again.

     In the fifth, Mootz hit another RBI double, and Hospodarsky singled to right to drive home another run and make it 7-6.

     Jacob Manternach then hit an RBI double off the left field fence in the sixth to bring home Sperfslage with the tying run, and Jacob Manternach scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Manternach, putting Monticello ahead for the first time, 8-7.

     “Jacob provided some big hits,” Soper said. “Jon Mootz also knocked in some big runs. Our kids batted back and grabbed the lead.”

     In the seventh, the Panthers got a key insurance run when Martensen walked, went to second on a passed ball, to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an error.

     Ryan Manternach took over for Hospodarsky on the mound in the sixth, and worked the last two innings. Cascade loaded the bases with two out, but Manternach struck out the next batter to end the game.

     “Tyler gave us four good innings to bridge the gap to Ryan,” the coach said. “Ryan did a great job nailing down that first game.”

     In the second game, the Panthers had a second-and-third, none-out opportunity in the second inning, but couldn’t score. Cascade then scored in the third to take a 1-0 lead.

     But as they had in the first game, the Panthers came back. Sperfslage hit a clutch two-out single to left to score Alex Kremer with the tying run in the fifth.

     In the sixth, Cascade had runners in first and second with two out, when a rocket of a line drive appeared headed down the third base line. Ryan Manternach snapped his glove to his backhand side and snared it, keeping the score 1-1.

     After a scoreless seventh, Jacob Manternach led off the top of the eighth with a long home run to left-center, putting the Panthers up 2-1. Monticello was able to add a run when Ryan Manternach was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a grounder by Martensen.

     Sperfslage then came in and retired the Cougars on just seven pitches to close out the win.

     There was considerably less drama in the Bellevue games on June 29. In the first game, the Panthers scored four runs over the first three innings, then broke it open with a four-run fifth to make it 8-0. Key hits included a two-run double by Sperfslage in the second inning, and a bases-clearing double by Jacob Manternach in the fifth.

     Then, in the sixth, the Panthers closed out the game with the 10-run rule when Alex Kremer hit a two-run single to score Mescher and Martensen. The rest of the Panthers mobbed both Martensen and Kremer, in celebration of the walk-off hit as well as wrapping up the outright division crown.

     Ryan Manternach pitched a three-hitter over six innings, striking out four.

     “Ryan pitched well, and we again played great defense,” Soper said. “Offensively, we had hits up and down the lineup again. Different guys step up on different nights.”

     Sperfslage finished 3-for-4, while Jacob Manternach, Martensen, Mootz and Kremer had two hits apiece.

     There was no letdown in the second game, as the Panthers jumped on Bellevue for four runs in the bottom of the first inning on the way to a 6-0 win. Sperfslage pitched six innings of one-hit ball, striking out two, and Hospodarsky pitched the seventh.

     “Another solid all-around game,” the coach said. “Kyle was great on the mound. Gavin (Cooper) had a tremendous all-around game. He is as good as they get in center field. He has been a spark plug in the leadoff spot as well.

     “We started off the season (against Bellevue) with a one-run win in eight innings. To close the conference season with a decisive sweep over the same team says a lot about the improvements this team has made.”

     Cooper batted 3-for-4 in the game, and Sperfslage was 2-for-3.

Pairings set

     Brackets have been released for the Class 2A district tournaments. Monticello and Dyersville Beckman will receive first round byes in District 7, and will play either Clayton Ridge or MFL MarMac in a district semifinal game Tuesday, July 11, 5 p.m. in Dyersville.


June 26

Monticello 9, Cascade 7

(first game)

MONTICELLO                            AB    R     H     BI

Cooper cf                                      5      0      0      0

Sperfslage 2b                               4      2      2      0

Manternach, J. c                           4      2      3      3

Manternach, R. 3b                        3      0      0      1

Mescher ss                                   3      2      1      0

Martensen 1b                                3      2      2      0

Mootz dh                                       4      1      2      3

Arduser p                                      0      0      0      0

Hospodarsky p                              3      0      1      2

Kremer rf                                       4      0      0      0

Nealson lf                                      0      0      0      0

Totals                                           33     9     11     9

Monticello                   004  022  1     –  9     11     3

Cascade                     500  200  0     –  7      6      4

HR – J. Manternach.

2B – Mootz 2, J. Manternach, Martensen.

Monticello                  IP      H     R   ER    BB   SO

Arduser                        1      1      5      2      2      1

Hospodarsky (W, 2-0)  4      3      2      0      0      0

Manternach., R.(S, 5)   2      2      0      0      1      3        

Totals                           7      6      7      2      3      4


Monticello 3, Cascade 1

(second game, eight innings)

MONTICELLO                            AB    R      H     BI

Cooper cf                                      4      0      0      0

Sperfslage ss                                4      0      1      1

Manternach, J. c                           3      1      2      1

Manternach, R. 3b                        3      1      0      0

Mescher p                                     4      0      2      0

Martensen 1b                                4      0      1      1

Mootz dh                                       4      0      1      0

Kremer rf                                       2      1      0      0

Hospodarsky 2b                            3      0      1      0

Nealson lf                                      0      0      0      0

Totals                                          31      3      8      3

Monticello                   000  010  01  –   3      8      2

Cascade                     001  000  00  –   1      5      1

HR – J. Manternach.

Monticello                  IP     H     R    ER   BB   SO

Mescher (W, 6-2)         7      4      1      0      2      4                                                                    

Sperfslage (S, 1)          1      0      0      0      0      1                                                                    

Totals                          8      4      1      0      2      5


June 29

Monticello 10, Bellevue 0

(first game, six innings)

MONTICELLO                            AB    R      H     BI

Cooper cf                                      3      2      1      0

Sperfslage 3b                               4      1      3      2

Manternach, J. c                           4      0      2      3

Manternach, R. 3b                        2      0      0      0

Mescher ss                                   3      2      1      0

Martensen 1b                                3      2      2      0

Mootz dh                                       3      0      2      1

Kremer rf                                       4      1      2      2

Hospodarsky 2b                            2      2      1      0

Nealson lf                                      0      0      0      0

Recker cr                                       0      0      0      0

Totals                                           28    10    14     8

Bellevue                      000  000       –    0      3      2

Monticello                   121  042       –   10    14      0

2B – J. Manternach 2, Sperfslage,


SB – Sperfslage 3, Cooper.

Monticello                  IP     H     R    ER   BB   SO

Mntrnch., R. (W, 3-1)   6      3      0      0      1      4                                                                    

Totals                          6      3      0      0      1      4


Monticello 6, Bellevue 0

(second game)

MONTICELLO                            AB    R      H    BI

Cooper cf                                      4      1      3      0

Sperfslage 2b                               3      2      2      0

Manternach, J. c                           4      0      1      1

Manternach, R. 3b                        3      1      1      1

Mescher ss                                   3      1      1      0

Martensen 1b                                3      1      1      1

Mootz dh                                       2      0      1      1

Kremer rf                                       3      0      1      1

Hospodarsky 2b                            2      0      0      0

Recker ph                                     1      0      0      0

Nealson lf                                      0      0      0      0

Janssen cr                                    0      0      0      0

Lambert cr                                    0      0      0      0

Totals                                          28     6     11     5

Bellevue                     000  000  0   –    0      1      2

Monticello                   401  001  x   –    6    11      0

2B – Sperfslage, J. Manternach, Martensen.

SB – Mescher.

Monticello                  IP      H     R    ER   BB   SO

Sperfslage (W, 3-1)      6      1      0      0      4      2                                                                    

Hospodarsky                1      1      0      0      0      0                                                                    

Totals                           7      2      0      0      4      2




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