Trojans denied tourney title
STATE CENTER – No more than 13 hours after a highly anticipated showdown between unbeaten NICL West Division foes ended without resolution, one of them returned to the diamond on an empty tank.
The West Marshall baseball team, which had gained itself a four-run lead over South Tama before lightning suspended play on a 10-inning thriller Friday night in Tama, returned home Saturday for its annual four-team Rose Festival Tournament.
After fighting through mental and physical exhaustion, a gritty CMB club and another 5-hour break, the Trojans saw their five-game win streak get run down by PCM in the championship game, 11-3.
The PCM Mustangs ended a three-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over Grundy Center and West Marshall, CMB got past the Spartans for their first win of the year, while shorthanded Grundy Center’s losing streak lengthened to seven games.
West Marshall (9-3) was two outs away from wrapping up a pivotal conference win in what was scheduled to be a doubleheader with South Tama a night earlier, but lightning forced the umpires’ hands around 10 p.m.
By the time the Trojans took the field at 11 a.m. Saturday, it was all head coach Jerod Brown could do to get his team back in the flow of things. But a depleting pitching corps and PCM’s relentless offense prolonged West Marshall’s title drought in its own tournament.
“I know we haven’t won one since I’ve been around, and that’s eight years now,” said Brown.
West Marshall turned away CMB, 5-2, in the day’s opener, and PCM dispatched Grundy Center 12-0 in their first-round affair.
After CMB scored a 6-2 win over the Spartans, PCM pushed across runs in its first six at-bats to beat West Marshall handily in the championship clash.
The key to the Mustangs’ success in the title match was the leadoff batter reaching base in every inning. Six times PCM led off with hits – including three doubles – and one of West Marshall’s five errors opened another scoring opportunity.
West Marshall eighth-grader Ross Randall and relievers Matt Van Metre and Justin Weitzell performed admirably but could not prevent PCM from pestering them from the basepaths. The Mustangs scored solo runs in each of their first four at-bats before posting crooked numbers with three runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth.
Only four of PCM’s 11 runs came earned to West Marshall pitchers, even though the Mustangs finished with 14 hits.
“PCM played a very good game, they really hit the ball well and threw strikes and made plays defensively,” said Brown. “We made some mistakes – we did a bit of everything, really – but credit PCM, they’ve got a nice team.”
Randall, a diminutive right-hander, pitched into the fifth inning in his first varsity start. He took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks with one strikeout. Van Metre surrendered six runs, but only one was earned, as untimely errors came back to haunt the Trojans.
“For his first varsity start against a very good PCM team, (Randall) competed on the big stage,” Brown said. “And Garrett Nichols, a freshman, pitched the first game. We sent a lot of guys out to the mound and they represented themselves well, stayed in the game and played hard.”
West Marshall managed just four hits against PCM’s triumvirate of pitchers. Keith Timmons got the win, giving up two runs on four hits, three total walks and three strikeouts. Alex DeWitte got tagged for one run in his 1 1/3, while Nathan VandeWall got the final two outs to end the game.
Jared Riemenschneider finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, Nolan Sinning was 1-for-2 with a run scored and was twice hit by a pitch, while Jared Johnson was 1-for-3 with the team’s only two RBIs. All three West Marshall runs scored courtesy of Johnson, who was walked with the bases loaded in the seventh. He also had an RBI single in the fourth on which Riemschneider scored and then Sinning did too when the cutoff man’s throw to second base sailed high as Johnson slid in safely.
Middle infielders Dylan and Brady Petermeier helped Weitzell put the PCM bats to bed in the top of the seventh – the only frame the Mustangs did not score. Brady made a highlight-reel diving stop on a VandeWall grounder in the hole at second base, but his errant throw put the leadoff man at second. Dylan’s diving catch at shortstop likely saved another run, and then Brady’s running catch up the middle led to a double play as courtesy runner Austin Brown strayed off second base.
PCM’s Zach Uhlenhopp finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored, while Chase Keuning was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Clay Cooper and Trey Lindsay added two hits apiece for the Mustangs (8-7).
CMB 6, Grundy Center 2
Grundy Center’s seventh inning rally attempt came up short and the Spartans dropped to 1-8 on the season with a 6-2 loss to previously winless CMB in Saturday’s Rose Festival consolation final.
Only one of CMB’s six runs came earned to Spartans pitcher Elliott Eggleston, who went all six innings in the loss. He allowed four hits and four total walks, striking out five, but Grundy Center’s five errors were too much for the defense to overcome.
The Spartans actually outhit CMB, 5-4, but stranded 10 runners on base in their seventh consecutive loss.
“Obviously in a seven-game week, pitching-wise we barely had anything left coming into the tournament,” said coach Jake Grafenberg. “Seven games with 11 players, it’s tough on them no matter what, not only pitching-wise but mentally and physically.”
Bryce Moats had two of the team’s five hits against CMB despite batting with a soft cast on his left forearm. Ryon Appel was 2-for-3 as well, and Tyler Harken singled and scored during Grundy Center’s last-gasp at-bat in the seventh. Jordan Clapp drove in Harken with a sacrifice fly and a CMB error scored Grant Weldon, who had been hit by a pitch.
Raiders right-hander Nate Bishop got out of the jam to end the game and get the win, going all seven innings. He allowed one earned run on five hits with six total walks and seven strikeouts.
Seth Balke had two of CMB’s four hits as the Raiders (1-10) got their first win.
West Marshall 5, CMB 2
A three-run fifth inning turned out to be necessary for West Marshall, which survived CMB’s sturdy challenge in the opening round.
Sinning drove in two with a bloop single and Johnson drove him home with his own hit, giving the Trojans a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. CMB would go on to score a solo run in the sixth but nothing more against Nichols.
The freshman lefty allowed four hits, a walk and one earned run, striking out four in the complete-game win. Bryce Kemp’s home run cut West Marshall’s early lead to 2-1, but the Trojans got the job done.
Garrett Goodwin had an RBI single to drive in Jared Riemenschneider, whose fly ball was misplayed in the bottom of the first to plate Weitzell as the game’s first run.
Weitzell finished 1-for-2 with two runs, Cody Berns had a pinch-hit double, while Jake Pszanka, Sinning, Johnson and Goodwin contributed singles. Riemenschneider scored twice.
PCM 12, Grundy Center 0
The Mustangs capitalized on a total of 18 free passes issued by Grundy Center’s depleted pitching staff, needing only four hits to score 12 runs in their first-round win.
PCM jumped out to an 8-0 lead after two innings but didn’t score again until the sixth. Tyler Townsend held the Spartans to one hit – Moats’ second-inning swinging bunt – and did not walk a batter in the shutout. Townsend struck out five and also contributed a two-run single in the Mustangs’ three-run seventh.
Grundy Center starter Dylan Appelgate, who pitched for the first time this season on Friday night at BCLUW, lasted only 1 1/3 innings. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on one hit and 10 total walks. Jared Krausman went the final 5 2/3 frames, giving up four earned runs on three hits and eight combined walks. He struck out one.