Bobcats split nail-biters at Ottumwa

OTTUWMA – A pair of back-and-forth games resulted in a cross-conference split for the Marshalltown High School baseball team, which needed extra innings to end Ottumwa’s six-game win streak on Friday night.

The Bobcats (9-10) posted four runs in the top of the seventh inning of the opener to rally back from a 5-2 deficit, but Ottumwa responed with two runs in the bottom half for a 7-6, walk-off win.

Marshalltown again came up big in the seventh inning of the second game, scoring twice to tie the score at 7-all, and then won it with benefit from an Ottumwa error – the game’s only defensive miscue – in the ninth frame.

In the nightcap, three relievers combined to throw 5 1/3 scoreless innings as Marshalltown rallied from a 7-5 deficit for an 8-7, nine-inning win.

Trailing by two entering the top of the seventh, Austin Sowers walked and Dylan Diveney was plunked to start the comeback. Derek Mann dropped down a sacrifice bunt but Mason McCarville’s flyout to right field was not deep enough. Ryan Mitchell delivered a two-run single up the middle to tie the game, and Ottumwa eventually escaped a bases-loaded situation after a pair of walks.

In the ninth, a leadoff walk to McCarville was followed by Mitchell’s double to right. A grounder off the bat of Grant Thimesch led to a rundown that eventually yielded an out at third base, but McCarville managed to score on a two-out throwing error by Ottumwa’s catcher.

Mitchell faced only one more than the minimum over three near-perfect innings of relief for the win, surrendering only a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out one for the win, teaming with Colten Hanke and Tyler Moranville in holding the Bulldogs scoreless after they had taken a 7-5 lead.

Mitchell also finished 4-for-4 with a double, two runs, three RBIs and three stolen bases in the victory. Thimesch, McCarville and Hunter Hillygus each contributed two hits, while Hanke and Moranville added singles.

Austin Denniston took the loss for Ottumwa. Colin Schultz was 3-for-5 with a double, two triples, two runs scored and two RBIs for the Bulldogs. Kyle Keck was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

In the first game, Ottumwa (11-10) scored four times in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-2 advantage that Marshalltown answered with its own four-spot. McCarville walked with one out and Sowers reached on an error, before Moranville’s single was misplayed in left field allowing McCarville to score.

Another Bulldog error plated two more on Mitchell’s grounder, and Mitchell promptly advanced into scoring position by stealing second base. He was caught stealing third, however, before Thimesch walked and Blake Judkins doubled to left. Thimesch scored on the play, giving Marshalltown a shortlived 6-5 lead.

Judkins tried to finish out what he started on the mound but hit Ottumwa’s No. 9 hitter to start the bottom of the seventh. A wild pitch was followed by an intentional walk, and Schultz sacrificed both Bulldog runners into scoring position.

A dropped fly ball plated Ottumwa’s tying run, and a wild pitch later allowed Spencer Fuller to score the game-winner.

Judkins allowed just four hits in the loss, walking four, hitting two and striking out four. Three of the seven runs came earned in 6 1/3 innings.

Judkins led MHS at the plate, going 2-for-4 with the RBI double. Thimesch doubled and scored twice, while Sowers had an RBI single. Michael Schrempf also had a hit in the loss.

Cooper Smith went 6 1/3 innings for the win for Ottumwa, extending the Bulldogs’ streak to six straight before the second game.

Next up for Marshalltown is Monday’s road trip to Fort Dodge. The Central Iowa Conference Northern Division doubleheader begins at 3:30 p.m.