Colo-NESCO clings to consolation final

WATERLOO – The defense left something to be desired.

And the final result took longer to surface than the Royals had hoped.

Though in the end, the Colo-NESCO baseball team made just enough plays to hang on for a 10-9 victory over South Hardin in the consolation final of the Riverfront Stadium Challenge Saturday.

“It seems like every time we got momentum going, we shot ourselves in the foot to swing the momentum back to South Hardin,” Colo-NESCO coach Brandon Kelley said of his squad, which committed four errors.

“You have to give (South Hardin) credit, they kept battling. And our team also could have put their heads down once it got tied 9-9, but they came back. It wasn’t pretty by any means but a win’s a win.”

Taylor Hill plated Brady Stoeffler for the winning-run on a sac fly in the top of the seventh to erase the Tigers’ five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth.

South Hardin (2-16) threatened in its final at-bat with the bases loaded and two outs though Brandyn Niemeyer escaped by fanning Blaire Donaldson for his third strikeout of the frame.

Niemeyer, who threw five innings Friday night, shutout the Tigers in the final 1 1/3 innings while fanning four, walking two and giving up a hit for the win in relief.

“Brandyn told us he probably had one inning in him,” Kelley said of his senior who volunteered to enter once the Tigers put the tying run at second in the bottom of the sixth.

“He did a nice job of coming in and shutting the door on them.”

Donaldson highlighted the Tigers’ rally, crushing a three-run triple to left field to bring the home team within 9-7 and Blake Drury followed with a run-scoring double to right before Niemeyer replaced Stoeffler.

Drury advanced to third on a passed ball and tied it up when Alex Gustafson reached first on an error before Niemeyer fanned Kelly Wood to stem the tide.

“It wasn’t any one thing, it was a mixture of things,” South Hardin coach Dick Shindelar said of his team’s 9 free passes, two hit batsmen and an error.

“We just have to put it together. When we have good pitching we generally don’t help in the field. When we help in the field, our pitching is a little bit offIf we’re a little bit sharper and make them put the ball in play, we have better opportunities to get out of the inning with little damage.”

The Royals (12-15) did some damage in the opening frame plating four runs including two on passed balls. Taylor Hill doubled and J.T. Adams was hit by a pitch before each scored on a ball that reached the backstop. Adam Lytle and Niemeyer followed with singles, before Tyler Guy walked and Peyton Larsen smacked a two-run single.

Another walk loaded the bases again before shortstop Ty Cook snared Tanner Clapp’s line drive and stepped on second for the double play.

South Hardin countered with three runs in the bottom of the first as Cody Haley singled and scored when Drury reached on an error, before Alex Gustafson drove in David Shindelar with an RBI groundout. Drury scored on a dropped third strike to bring the Tigers within one.

Adams gave the Royals some breathing room in the fourth with a two-run triple to plate Stoeffler and Hill, who each drew walks. Lytle brought in Adams with an RBI groundout to push the margin to 7-3.

Three walks and a hit batsmen dug the Tigers an even deeper hole in the fifth. Guy led off the fifth with a single before both his pinch runner, Christian Montgomery, and Grant Tiarks each scored on bases loaded walks to give the Royals their largest lead.

Drury trimmed the deficit to 9-4 with an RBI single to bring in Shindelar in the fifth, before the Tigers rallied in the sixth.

Adams threw the first five frames for the Royals allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, while striking out eight and hitting one batter. He exited the mound after the fifth after reaching his weekly limit of innings. Brady Stoeffler surrendered five runs (four earned) in 2/3 of an inning on three hits, one walk and a hit batsmen.

Ty Cook took the loss in relief giving up a run on one hit, while walking three and retiring two on strikes in 2 2/3 frames. David Shindelar allowed nine runs on six hits, six walks, one beaned batter and a strikeout in 4 1/3 innings.

The Royals face East Marshall on the road Tuesday and host Nevada in their regular season finale Thursday. The Tigers close their regular season at Hudson on the road Tuesday.

Roland-Story 21, South Hardin 1, 4 innings

The visiting Norsemen poured on 10 runs in the fourth after plating five in the second, four in the third and two in the first to cruise past the Tigers.

South Hardin starter Sam Shindelar left after the first inning reaggravating injuries to his back and hip. Kelly Wood threw the final three frames as the Tigers put one on the board when David Shindelar scored in the fourth. Bridger Lawrence and Blake Drury tallied the lone hits for the Tigers. Roland-Story recorded seven hits and took advantage of six South Hardin errors.

Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 13, Colo-NESCO 1, 5 innings

The Cardinals pounded out nine hits and tallied four-spots in the second, third and fourth frames to roll past the Royals. Heath Hutcheson, Josh Theobald and Keith Schwickerath each contributed a pair of hits as Garner-Hayfield/Ventura plated its other run in the first.

Colo-NESCO avoided the shutout with a run in the fifth. Taylor Hill led the Royals with two hits including a triple, while Adam Lytle and Peyton Larson each added a single.

Adams took the loss allowing five runs in two frames, while Steven Cutler surrendered seven runs in 1 1/3 frames. Lytle allowed a run in 2/3 of frame to close it out. The Royals gave up seven free passes and hit two batters.

Roland-Story 13, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 0, 5 innings

The Norsemen (23-11) claimed the Riverfront Stadium Challenge with ease tallying three runs in the first, six more in the second and four in the third while blanking the Cardinals (10-16). Zach Hovick picked up the win from the hill.