Sometimes one big inning is all you need to win in baseball — and all you will get. Such was the case for Waterloo on Thursday against county rival Columbia in the Class 3A Waterloo Regional at WHS.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the top of the first inning off one of the area’s best pitchers, Columbia’s Josh Fleming. Waterloo starter Jeremy Rettig, reliever Devin Rice, and the Bulldogs defense made the lead hold up in a 3-1 win.
Waterloo will face another top pitcher, Mascoutah’s Ryan Netemeyer (7-0, 1.24 ERA) in the regional final at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
In the first, Ryan Aycock singled and later scored on a single by Zach Schaab. An infield error on a ball hit by Tyler McAlister allowed Schaab to cross the plate. Christian Schmidt then smacked a double to left, scoring McAlister.
Fleming allowed just one more hit — in the second inning — and completely shut down Waterloo’s offense from there. He finished with a complete game and 10 strikeouts in defeat.
Rettig pitched five strong innings, allowing just one unearned run. He was able to work out of jams, the biggest one coming in the bottom of the third. Jacob Hill led off with a single for the Eagles, but was caught stealing at second. After a Kyle Gudeman groundout, Quinten Spivey and Cam Touchette singled. KJ Spisak reached on an error by the Waterloo second baseman. With the bases loaded, Rettig got Cam Shewfelt to chop it back to the mound and end the threat.
Columbia scored its run in the sixth following an errant throw to second on a steal with a runner at third.
Rice pitched out of the sixth inning jam and then closed the door on Columbia’s season in the seventh.
Waterloo ace Austin Nunnery (6-2, 1.58 ERA) is expected to pitch Saturday against Mascoutah’s Netemeyer.