It was a memorable Tuesday for Chase Kueter, to say the least.
Hours after trying out for the Cincinnati Reds in Peoria, Ill., the recent University of Dubuque graduate and Bellevue, Iowa, native found himself on the mound for the Bellevue Braves semi-pro baseball team in hopes of delivering another tournament championship.
With exception to one big hit, Kueter got the job done. He threw seven innings for a no decision and had the game-winning RBI in the top of the ninth inning as the Braves rallied past the Epworth Orioles, 5-3, in the Rickardsville Tournament Championship late Tuesday night.
“It was a lot of fun,” Kueter said on Wednesday. “We threw to a couple of hitters (during Reds tryouts) and talked to a few of the scouts and I was scheduled to start in the championship. It definitely felt good. Just a long day. But it ended up being great.”
Epworth slugger Brett Featherston took home MVP honors after a monstrous tournament. He finished 6-for-13 with six runs scored, 14 RBIs and five home runs — including a three-run blast in the third inning against Bellevue to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
But that was all the scoring Epworth managed as Kueter and reliever Doug Van Dyke teamed up to shut down the Orioles the rest of the way. Kueter had 13 strikeouts through seven innings and allowed just three hits.
Van Dyke, who took home the tournament’s Outstanding Pitcher award, threw the final two innings on Tuesday and was credited with wins in both the semifinals and finals. He finished with 19 strikeouts over nine innings and no earned runs.
“Our pitching in tournaments has been amazing,” said Bellevue manager Chet Knake. “What makes it special this year is we have Chase and Doug as our 1-2. … To come back and beat an Epworth team that has one of the best lineups, that just shows we can beat anybody. We got down, 3-1, and nobody panicked.”
The Braves cut their deficit to 3-2 after the sixth inning and knotted the score at 3-3 after seven when Van Dyke took the hill. Having just pitched on the previous night, Knake said he only wanted Van Dyke for the eighth inning unless Bellevue earned the lead.
That happened on Kueter’s two-out, bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth, driving in two runs to give the Braves the lead for good. Van Dyke came back out and capped the game with a 1-2-3 inning to secure the win.
Bellevue improved to 18-2 on the season, and Tuesday night marked the Braves’ second tournament win of the summer. Knake called the Rickardsville title a real “confidence booster” for what’s yet to come this season.
“We beat some very quality teams,” he said. “We’re basically all Bellevue guys who’ve been playing for a long time together. Chemistry does matter in these leagues.”
In Tuesday’s consolation game, host Rickardsville beat the Dubuque Budweisers, 7-5.