Marshalltown, Mason City make it easier for each other
Throw strikes, make plays and limit extra opportunities.
It’s a simple formula that didn’t need any extra explanation Monday.
And after seeing both teams use it for a victory, Marshalltown baseball coach Steve Hanson’s concept of throwing records and team names out the window rang true.
Playing a bit of a role-reversal between games, the Bobcats split a Central Iowa Conference Northern Division doubleheader with Mason City at the MHS diamond.
Marshalltown pounced on seven Mohawk errors to claim the opener 11-1 in six innings, before making two defensive miscues and walking a pair of batters to drop the nightcap 7-3.
“They were kind of similar games from each winning team’s perspective,” said Hanson, whose squad evened out at 8-8 overall and 3-3 in league play.
“(In game one) they kind of handed us the runs we needed. In game two, we handed them the runs they needed.”
Mason City’s errors came in bunches early in the opener as the Bobcats built a 3-0 edge off six errors in the first two frames, before tacking on another run in the third.
Grant Thimesch and Blake Judkins both scored in the first as Thimesch advanced to second on an error and Judkins reached first the same way. Michael Schrempf drove in Judkins, who moved to second on the Mohawks’ third error of the inning, with a single to give the home team a 2-0 cushion.
Ryan Mitchell singled in the second before making his way around the bases on three Mohawk miscues including two errant throws, which allowed the Bobcat to score from second. Schrempf (3-for-3, R, 4 RBI) made it 4-0 in the third frame on a double steal from first and third.
Marshalltown’s bats took over in the sixth pounding out six hits for six runs.
Connor Ruddick, Mitchell (2-for-3) and Thimesch (2-for-4) opened with consecutive singles, before Judkins (1-4, 2 RBI) and Hunter Hillygus (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI) followed with run-scoring singles. Schrempf added a two-run single and Tyler Moranville (1-for-3, 2 RBI) delivered a walkoff two-run single to close it out.
Judkins tossed a six-inning two-hitter and allowed one run. The senior fanned 12, didn’t issue a walk and retired the first nine batters he faced.
“Judkins was around the plate and did a nice job,” Hanson said.
Stone Sturges drove in the Mohawks’ lone run on a bloop single to score Austin Voves, who opened the fourth with a double. Cody Harmon took the loss allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out five and walking three in three innings. Brock Thompson surrendered seven runs on nine hits with one strikeout and a walk in 2 1/3 innings.
Mason City (4-6, 1-3) played the aggressor in the second meeting, taking advantage of several extra opportunities offered by the Bobcats.
“When that happens it doesn’t matter, you throw the records out the window,” Hanson said of the additional outs the Bobcats gave Mason City.
“You give extra opportunities and you’re really going to struggle to win.”
Judkins’ RBI double gave MHS an early 1-0 edge in the first though the Bobcats stranded a pair ending the at-bat with a strikeout and groundout.
“We had opportunities early in game two and we let (Matthew Schneider) off the hook,” Hanson said of the Mohawks’ starting pitcher who threw a complete game and allowed three runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
“The longer he went, the better he got.”
The Bobcats’ first error allowed Thompson to score from second in the next frame.
Marshalltown’s next miscue kept the inning alive for Matt Meyer (2-for-4, 3 RBI) to deliver a bases-clearing double in the third, putting the Mohawks up 4-1.
Mason City gave one back when Hillygus motored all the way from second to score on a routine pop fly down the first base line that three Mohawks failed to make a play on.
Thompson pushed the margin back with a solo shot in the fourth forcing the first of three pitching changes for the Bobcats. Colton Hanke again trimmed the deficit to two with a run-scoring double in the fourth, though the Bobcats couldn’t strike again.
Voves (3-for-3, 2 R) and Tyler Moorhead added insurance with back-to-back RBI triples in the seventh. Mitchell and McCarville each had a pair of hits for MHS, which finished with 8 to Mason City’s 12.
Moranville was saddled with the loss giving up five runs (one earned) on six hits, while fanning two and walking one in 3 1/3 innings. Austin Sowers gave up one run on two hits and a walk and struck out two in 1 2/3 frames, while Mitchell allowed a run off two hits in one inning. Judkins threw the seventh and allowed two hits, before striking out the side.
Marshalltown hosts Cedar Rapids Kennedy, a 2012 state semifinalist, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Though Hanson reiterated that the Bobcats must focus on what they can control rather than worrying about the opponent.
“It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Hanson said.
“At this point of the season – and it’s been this way for the past week – we’re playing against ourselves. If we play how we can play, we’ll have a chance to win. If we continue to give extra opportunities and put people on base via walk or hit by pitch – it’s just going to be difficult.”
The Bobcats travel to Ottumwa for a twin bill Friday starting at 5 p.m. … After a five-game win streak, the Bobcats have lost four of their last five, including three losses to ranked teams.