Lightning spoils completion of NICL West showdown
By TROY HYDE
TAMA – The North Iowa Cedar League West Division game between South Tama County and West Marshall was the contest that wouldn’t end.
And after nine innings and a one hour and 35 minute lightning delay, there is still no end.
West Marshall plated four runs in the top of the 10th inning, but a third lightning delay in the bottom of the 10th forced the game to be suspended with the visiting Trojans up 7-3.
“We did a really job of keeping our mental focus today. There was a lot of adversity in this game with the weather and playing a very good South Tama team,” West Marshall coach Jerod Brown said. “I was really happy with how we stayed in the game. They battled back and twice tied the game when we thought we were in good shape. Give credit to South Tama for that.”
The two teams were supposed to play a doubleheader Friday after a rain out postponed the first meeting in State Center. But now they will have to find a date to finish the suspended game and play the second contest.
“I told the kids that we are techically still undefeated in the conference,” South Tama coach Seth Koch said. “We will have to see where we can make this up and try to get back in the game whenever that is.”
Both starters pitched into the ninth inning. Neither will get a decision when the game is finally completed.
South Tama County senior Sam Kuhter allowed two hits and two earned runs in nine innings and struck out 14 while walking six.
West Marshall senior Jared Riemenschneider pitched eight innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits and six walks. He also struck out three.
“The two pitchers matched each other inning for inning and pitch for pitch,” said Koch. “It was a great game to be a part of. I don’t think I have been a part of a better one in my 24 years of coaching high school baseball.”
Nolan Sinning is in line for the win as he retired all three batters he faced in the STC ninth. He also has one out in the books in the 10th.
Tony “Tank” Keckler will be handed the loss if the home team cannot rally in the bottom of the 10th inning. Keckler allowed four runs on four hits and two walks before Colson Frakes ended the inning with three straight outs.
“Kuhter did an excellent job on the mound for them,” Brown said. “We finally got some pitches to hit and put some aggressive swings on them and it kind of snowballed from there. We kind of built off each other’s quality at-bats.
“In the end we scored a couple runs, but this game isn’t over. We still have some outs to get. They still get their shot at it.”
Riemenschneider and Nolan Sinning, who both entered the game hitting .458, each collected two-run singles in the 10th to give West Marshall (8-2 overall, 6-0 in NICL West) the lead.
“They hit the ball, put the ball in play and made some things happen in the 10th,” Koch said. “You have to give them credit for that. Right now, they are up in the 10th inning.”
Jake Pszanka reached on a fielder’s choice and scored in the third to give West Marshall an early 1-0 lead. He also walked and scored in the sixth and eighth innings.
Kolton Smith doubled in the third and then scored on a West Marshall error to tie the game in the third. Kaleb Davenport also reached with an infield single prior to the first lightning delay at 6:21 p.m.
West Marshall regained the lead in the sixth as Pszanka walked and scored on an error.
South Tama (7-2, 4-0) forced extra innings with a run in the seventh. Kuhter reached on an error to lead off the frame. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nate Hala and then scored after another bunt by Frakes.
“You have to give the guys credit for hanging in there,” Koch said of the two rallies by his Trojans. “We scored a run when we needed to and came back twice. The kids dug deep and made something happen there.”
West Marshall catcher Jared Johnson fielded the bunt and got the out at first, but Kuhter sprinted home after seeing that no one was covering homeplate.
Pszanka, who entered the game hitting .400, walked to lead off the eighth and then went to second on Sinning’s single. The Trojans took the lead when Pszanka scored after the ball got away from Grant Koch on an attempted pick off at first base.
South Tama once again extended the game in its half of the eighth inning. Smith led off the frame with a single and then advanced to second on an error and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Davenport. Koch eventually brought him in with a sacrifice fly to right field.
When the game resumes, South Tama will have one out on the board and Davenport, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, heading to the plate.
Both teams were still hoping to play two up until the final lightning delay at around 10 p.m. West Marshall does play today in its annual Rose Festival tournament at 11 a.m. … Both coaches admitted it will be hard to find an open date to finish the games. South Tama plays Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week and West Marshall travels to AGWSR on Friday. … South Tama next plays at Grundy Center and then travels to Conrad to play BCLUW on Tuesday. … Riemenschneider entered Friday’s game with a 3-0 record on the mound. He had not allowed an earned run until South Tama plated its first run in the third inning. … Koch said the two teams may have to find a Saturday date to complete the two games. He also said no matter when they decide to play, Riemenschneider and Kuhter would be ineligible to pitch in either contest because both met their innings limit in game one and the “24-hour period” holds over despite the games being played on a different day.