Grundy Center lets late lead slip away

STATE CENTER – The big inning has defined Grundy Center’s ball club much of the season.

And many times, it’s come at the Spartans’ expense.

After stringing together 14 innings of solid baseball at the Rose Festival Tournament, the Spartan’s tourney came unglued in No. 15 and 16 resulting in an 0-2 finish Saturday.

Giving up 10 runs in the eighth inning of their opener against PCM (8-8) and surrendering four more to CMB in the first frame of their second game, the Spartans (7-9) were twice bit by crooked numbers to come up empty after Friday’s 3-2 win over West Marshall.

Grundy Center led 3-2 over the Mustangs entering the seventh but a couple errors and Austin Brown’s ensuing RBI double knotted the game before PCM piled it on in the tenth.

CMB’s 4-0 lead to start the second game proved to be enough cushion as the Raiders held on for a 5-3 victory.

“It always seems like one inning is the inning that gets us,” Spartan coach Jacob Grafenberg said. “In the second game it was the first inning that got us and in the first game it was the last inning. If we get through that one inning we usually win the ball game. If we can’t get through that inning or recover from it, it’s a problem for us.”

Three errors, six hits, two hit batsmen and a walk resulted in 10 runs for PCM in the eighth as a bad throw on Jerod DeVries’ bunt brought in the go-ahead run. Trey Lindsay added a two-run single and Clay Cooper plated one more before the next three runs came via passed balls or walks.

Dillon Bruxboort added a bloop single and DeVries drilled a double to widen the gap to 12-3, before another error created the final margin.

Bryce Moats paced the offense hitting 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBIs. Grant Weldon added a sac fly.

The big inning came early in the second game as CMB squeezed out three runs in the bottom of the first highlighted by a two-run single from Aric Broderick. Hunter McWhirter’s RBI single up the middle stretched the gap to 4-0 in the second, before the Spartans got the bats going in the fourth.

Grant Weldon led off with a triple to right field and scored on Jordan Clapp’s single, though the senior was caught in a rundown. Austin Burroughs doubled and Braidan Buhrow singled but both were left stranded.

Jared Krausman sparked the sixth with a single to left, Moats advanced him by reaching safely with a bunt. Jordan Clapp added a two-run double to bring the Spartans within 4-3.

“The guys started down a little bit but there were a couple hits that really got them going,” Grafenberg said. “Those hits got them back up and put us back in the ball game.”

McWhirter added some insurance in the sixth with an RBI double to set the final score as Grundy Center went down in order in the seventh. Though Grafenberg was glad the early deficit didn’t deter his team against the Raiders, even if the final result didn’t come up in their favor.

“Our guys have been up and down with being able to get back into the game,” Grafenberg said. “We get down sometimes right away and let ourselves stay down. We’ve been really working on that and trying to get back up. It usually takes that one solid hit to get us going and then we’re right back to it.”