Tigers topple Muscatine in regular season finale

MUSCATINE – Two strong pitching performances on the mound and 23 hits at the plate was a recipe for success Monday for the Marshalltown Community College baseball team.

Ron Gombos and Ben Ryder both pitched six strong innings and the offense took care of the rest as the Tigers swept NJCAA Division I foe Muscatine during an ICCAC double-dip, winning the opener 7-2 and the nightcap 11-2.

Gombos fanned eight and allowed one run on four hits in the first game as the Tigers scored five in the third inning and never looked back. Ryder followed up with a victory of his own in the second game as he struck out seven, walked just one and surrendered two runs on five hits.

The Tigers (23-20, 12-12) begin play in the Region XI Tournament at 2 p.m. Friday in Muscatine against second-seeded Indian Hills (31-20, 15-9). Top-seeded and fourth-ranked Iowa Western (41-12, 18-6) takes on fourth-seeded Muscatine (10-35, 3-21) in the early game Friday. The double-elimination tournament runs through Sunday.

MCC grabbed a 5-1 advantage in Monday’s opener when five runs crossed the plate in the third. A Muscatine error started the rally and Justen Folger’s RBI single made it 2-1. Tyler Evans then came through with an RBI double and Andrew Utterback’s two-run double capped the scoring in the frame. All five runs were scored with two outs.

Evans added a two-run single in the fifth to make it 7-1. Evans finished the game 2-for-3 with one run and three RBIs.

Ty Russell and Folger both had two hits and scored two runs, while Marshalltown native Bennett Mann also was 2-for-2 with a walk.

Alex Bradley had two of Muscatine’s four hits.

The Tigers would never trail in the nightcap, scoring two runs in the first and four more in the second. They also plated two in the fourth and three in the fifth.

Evans’ RBI sacrifice fly and Utterback’s RBI single in the first put MCC on the board first. RBI hits by Daryl Blaskovich, Russell, Folger and Evans gave the Tigers a commanding lead. A two-run double by Utterback extended the lead in the fourth and then a two-run home run by Folger in the fifth capped off an impressive performance at the dish for the Tigers.

Russell led the Tigers with three hits, three runs and two RBIs in the second game, while Folger also had two hits, three runs and three RBIs. Utterback finished with two hits and three RBIs and William Salas was 2-for-5 from the leadoff spot.