Trevor Stencel of United South Central is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the top of the third inning Thursday at NRHEG. USC won 8-1. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Trevor Stencel of United South Central is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the top of the third inning Thursday at NRHEG. USC won 8-1. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: USC baseball wins at NRHEG

Published 12:19am Friday, April 11, 2014

NEW RICHLAND — The United South Central baseball team didn’t miss a beat with new players filling in gaps at NRHEG.

The reloaded Rebels beat the Panthers 8-1 on Thursday.

One of USC’s biggest holes was behind the plate. Trey Allis, a three-year starter, picked off 21 base runners last season. He also had a .404 batting average and will play this season for Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids.

Filling the void at catcher was Rebels junior Riley Kloos, who was two for three and posted a game-high three RBIs.

“Riley did a nice job back there,” said USC coach Pat Frank. “He’s a good athlete, and he swung the bat really well.”

Kloos showed accuracy while throwing from behind the plate when he picked off NRHEG’s Dakota Thiele in the bottom of the first inning.

The Rebels also graduated a group of five players who spent time on the mound and made the Tribune’s All-Area team: David Stenzel, Colin Becher, Cole Stencel, Lucas George and Shawn Redman.

Trevor Stencel earned a win on the hill for USC with three strikeouts, two hits and one walk in five innings. Cody Latusek finished the game for the Rebels. He struck out two batters and allowed one walk in the final two innings.

Frank said the Rebels’ pitching strategy is straight forward.

“We want to limit our walks and make our fielders field the ball,” he said. “It’s a simple game, so we don’t try to complicate things.”

USC’s leading returner is Walker Linde, a sure-handed shortstop.

“He’s expected to get everything (that’s hit at him),” Frank said. “He’s a senior, and that’s what he’s out there for. He’s going to be the leader, and we formed the team around what he can do.”

NRHEG was led by Tucker Dempsey and Trevor Tracy on the mound.

Dempsey gave up eight runs in the first four innings but held USC scoreless in his last inning. Tracy took the mound in relief and didn’t allow any runs.

“When he (Tracy) came in, he did what he had to do,” said NRHEG coach Pat Churchill. “When you’re down, you can’t give up any more runs.”

The Panthers excelled the most in the outfield, despite having to practice indoors because of the weather.

“We’ve got some guys with some speed out there who can go get the ball,” Churchill said. “There were a lot of pop-ups, and being inside, that’s one thing you can’t really gauge or practice very well.”

USC played well early by posting three runs in the top of the first. After adding a two-run shot by Stencel in the top of the third, USC led by five.

In the bottom of the third, NRHEG’s Thiele scored the Panthers’ only run of the game.

USC added three more runs in the top of the fourth, and neither team scored after that.

Next, USC will host Waterville-Elysian Morristown at 4:30 p.m. today. NRHEG will play next at 5 p.m. Monday against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: April 10 post.