Tigers can’t capitalize on chance to catch Falcons
The Marshalltown Community College baseball team came into the weekend with a big opportunity. Take care of business against rival Indian Hills and move into second place in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference standings.
After Saturday’s doubleheader loss to the Falcons, the opportunity to move up in the standings was lost.
The Tigers were outscored 22-6 on the day, losing the opener 8-3 and dropping the nightcap 14-3 at Shawn Williams Field. Instead of pulling even with Indian Hills in the standings, the Tigers fell four games back and trail first-place Iowa Western by six games.
“It’s fine. It’s a bad day. It’s the way it goes sometimes,” MCC coach Rich Grife said. “We had been playing pretty good. It was just a rough day, that’s all.”
Grife said the biggest reason for the losses was due to the fact that Tiger offense struggled against Indian Hills’ pitchers all day. The Falcons (26-16, 12-6) used three pitchers and held the Tigers to just 12 hits combined in the two games.
Jake Stalzer and Matt Lashlee combined for an eight-hitter in the opener, and then Sam Ross tossed a complete game victory in the 14-3 nightcap. Ross held MCC to just four hits.
The Tigers (18-18, 8-10) committed four errors in the second game as well, but Grife said it was more what was happening at the plate and less of what was occurring in the field.
“It wasn’t that, we haven’t played really well in the field all season,” Grife said of the errors. “We just didn’t hit today. But we’ll bounce back (Sunday). We’ll be fine.”
The same two teams will play another doubleheader today with first pitch set for 1 p.m. The Tigers will have their two best pitchers – Jake Whaley and Corey Ceponis – on the hill in those two games.
The Tigers got off to a really strong start in the first inning of the first game. Trailing 1-0 on the scoreboard, MCC began its first at-bat with three straight singles, including an RBI hit by Ty Russell.
With no outs, Justen Folger flied out to left field, and Daryl Blaskovich appeared to score on the play. However, Indian Hills appealed to third base on the play and the homeplate umpire determined that Blaskovich left third base on the attempted tag up before the ball was caught.
Indian Hills was awarded the double play and the inning ended one batter later when Tyler Evans flied out to right field.
The Falcons’ left fielder made a diving catch on the controversial fly ball and would not have made the play at homeplate any way. But after an argument from Grife, the call stood and the Tigers settled for just one run.
“It takes a run off the board and puts an out on the board,” said Grife. “It’s a tough deal. That’s the way it goes. It is what it is sometimes.”
All the momentum MCC had gained in that first inning was gone the rest of the way as the Tigers collected just five more hits in the final six innings and never recovered.
Evans homered in the sixth and then delivered an RBI single in the seventh but it was not enough to keep the rally going. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the fourth and stranded two base runners in the sixth.
Ron Gombos started and took the loss on the hill for the Tigers. He allowed the first four runs and fanned five in the loss. John Bloom gave up three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh before Tanner Smith closed out the game in relief for the Tigers.
Stalzer recorded the win for the Falcons, while Lashlee got the final four outs for the save.
The Falcons wasted no time getting on the board in the nightcap. They plated three runs in their first at-bat against Tiger starter Ben Ryder and then scored three more in the third to go up 6-0.
Blaskovich hit a two-run home run in the MCC third to close the gap and then added an RBI single in the fifth, but that is all the Tigers could muster against Ross.
Ross’ complete game win included four hits, eight strikeouts and just two walks. He struck out the side in the sixth inning and ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts in the seventh. He also retired MCC in order four times.
“Their pitchers didn’t do anything special against us, we just didn’t have a good day at the plate,” Grife said. “We’ll bounce back though. It was just one of those days.”
Taylor Ostrich doubled twice, tripled, homered and had six RBIs in game two for the Falcons, while Russell had two of the three hits and all three RBIs for the Tigers.
Ryder is an NCAA Division I signee at Alabama A&M and he will be joined by Folger, who signed his letter of intent with the program this week. … The Tigers had won seven of their last 10 entering Saturday, including three wins in four tries against nationally ranked Iowa Western last weekend.