Rose returns to West Marshall

STATE CENTER – West Marshall coach Jerod Brown would rather his team forget about the score and focus their attention on the next play.

The numbers on the board were hard to ignore in the final game of the Rose Festival Baseball Tournament Saturday.

Piling up 14 runs and sending 18 batters to the plate in the first frame, the Trojans coasted a bit before closing things out for a 20-10 six-inning victory over PCM.

After the Mustangs (8-8) opened the game with a 4-0 advantage, West Marshall retaliated immediately with its first 14 batters safely reaching base. Eight hits, two errors and 14 runs later, the Trojans had secured a 10-run cushion.

“The natural tendency when you get in those spots is to start thinking about things down the road,” Brown said. “You start thinking about the outcome rather than the core of the game and that’s just winning the next pitch. If you stay focused on that it gives you a much better chance. The scoreboard is irrelevant, whether we’re up big, down big or close, we play the game the same way.

“We got away from that a few times with some walks, hit by pitches and wild pitches, but offensively we did a really nice job of jumping back into it, getting those runs back and not allowing that huge inning.”

West Marshall (10-10) stretched its lead to 16-4 in the second, though PCM came back with four runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to keep the contest going.

Garrett Nichols’ RBI groundout pushed the gap to seven in the bottom of the fifth and West Marshall won with a walk-off hit by pitch in the sixth. Dylan Petermeier was walked in and Matt Van Metre added an RBI single before Cody Berns was beaned to bring in Nolan Sinning for the final run.

Sinning sparked the first-inning scoring with an RBI single and Jared Johnson added a two-run triple before Van Metre’s single brought in the tying run. Berns hit the first of his two doubles, Sponseller singled in a run and another came through on the first of back-to-back errors to lead the Mustangs to their first pitching change trailing 7-4. PCM went through six arms in the game and four in the first two frames.

Randall’s RBI single preceded three straight runs by walk, before PCM recorded its first out on the Trojans’ 15th batter of the game. Sponseller clubbed a two-run single down the third base line and Nichols plated another with a groundout to secure a 14-4 advantage.

West Marshall drew three walks to open the second and Dylan Petermeier scored on a passed ball before the Mustangs moved to Trey Lindsay – their fourth different pitcher of the game. Randall tacked on an RBI groundout before Lindsay retired the next two batters and picked off Berns at first.

PCM chipped away with four runs in the fourth including one on a passed ball, a Zach Uhlenhoopp RBI single and two more on bases-loaded hit by pitches. The Mustangs last two runs came off a passed ball and an error.

Sponseller earned the win allowing eight runs (six earned) on seven hits with five walks, two strikeouts and one hit batsman over 3 2/3 innings.

Following Friday’s 3-2 loss to Grundy Center, West Marshall opened the day with a 7-5 victory over CMB. The Trojans had a similar quick start with three runs in the first and four more in the third, before the Raiders (4-10) closed a 7-2 gap to two in their final at-bat. West Marshall ended the game with a pickoff at second as Alex Billman garnered the win allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and a pair of walks in six innings.

Petermeier paced the offense hitting 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Berns batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Billman, Van Metre and Sinning each plated a run as well.

“Sometimes we’ve had a tough time getting that last out and closing things out,” Brown said. “With a lot of young guys getting experience it’s always a work in progress but today we did a good job of staying locked in and continuing to win the next pitch. We made enough plays to get out of the first game and we really stayed after it offensively in the second game.”

The Trojans claimed the Rose Festival Tournament title for the first time in Brown’s nine years with the program as he saw his squad bounce back from Friday’s “flat” performance.

“We came out with a lot more energy and focus,” Brown said. “We had an attitude of getting to be here rather than having to be here and that made difference more than anything strategically or skill wise.”

Notebook

The Trojans host South Hardin in a North Iowa Cedar League West Division doubleheader Monday before traveling to South Tama County on Thursday.