Saydel baseball team rebounds from scary head-to-head collision

Saydel experienced shock, fear, reflection and inspiration on a baseball field.

And that was just to get to the Class 3-A district finals.

“At this point in the season it’s about heart and desire,” Saydel coach J.R. Gebhart said on Saturday night.

“We had two kids that really showed it going after a ball that they weren’t going to let drop. We try to teach our kids to give full effort on every pitch. But now somebody else is going to have to step up and get it done for us.”

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The Eagles (22-9) lost second baseman Alex Gustafson and right fielder Rece Martin in the fifth inning of Friday’s game against Carlisle as the two met in a scary head-to-head collision while tracking down a fly ball.

Gustafson was stretchered off Saydel’s field after a delay of more than 20 minutes, but the senior captain gave a thumbs up to the crowd before being placed into an ambulance.

“It was huge to have our full-time athletic trainer there, then we had a paramedic come out of the crowd from our side and the Carlisle side,” Gebhart said. “We had a lot of help and I’m grateful those people came out.”

Gustafson was released from the hospital on Saturday with multiple facial fractures and a concussion, while Martin sustained a concussion.

Trailing Carlisle 4-2 after the nightmare inning, Saydel had to battle back with eighth-grader T.J. Stephenson taking Gustafson’s leadoff spot at the plate.

Stephenson drew a walk to start the bottom of the seventh inning, and was followed by Joe Seuferer’s game-tying home run.

Matt Stone hit Devin Porter home for the game-winning run a few batters later and gave the Eagles some relief before taking on Pella in Monday’s District 14 final.

“It was definitely an emotional win for the kids,” Gebhart said. “I haven’t had to deal with anything like that in my career. The kids responded well and I was proud of them.”

Gustafson was responding to well-wishers on Twitter by Saturday afternoon.

“(F)ractured bones in face (with) concussion and passed out going after fly ball. Doing OK, but will be out for tournament run unfortunately,” he posted in a reply.

Martin, who will likely be ruled out for Monday’s game, has 22 RBIs in his sophomore season. Gustafson was hitting .442 and had struck out just six times all season.

The Eagles take the field against Pella at 7 p.m. on Monday.

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