MHS salvages split with Dodgers

The Bobcat squad that swept Class 4A No. 6 Urbandale just 24 hours before was hard to find in game one of Thursday’s doubleheader.

And following a 7-0 shutout in the opener, things didn’t look much better to start game two.

Rallying behind a complete-game outing from Dylan Diveney on the hill, the Marshalltown baseball team got just enough offense late to edge ninth-ranked Fort Dodge, 3-1, and split the Central Iowa Conference Northern Division twin bill at the MHS baseball diamond.

Diveney allowed just one unearned run on seven hits and struck out eight, while also tripling and scoring the tying run in the fifth. MHS moved in front in the sixth when Grant Thimesch drew a bases-loaded walk and Justus Bjelland scored on a passed ball.

Thimesch tallied three hits and two RBIs and Diveney tacked on two hits as the Bobcats (19-16, 5-5) claimed their fifth win in their last seven games.

“We were able to generate just enough offense to win,” MHS coach Steve Hanson said. “And it was just enough offense to win because Dylan Diveney was really good on the mound. If he’s average or not real good, we don’t win – and he was real good.”

MHS also played error-free ball after committing three in the opener.

The Dodgers (21-13, 7-7) entered the evening having won seven of their last nine and were the aggressor against a listless MHS squad in game one.

“In game one we had nothing,” Hanson said. “We had no energy, we were apathetic, we came to the ballpark lazy and flat. For me that’s really difficult because that’s my job. My job is to make sure they aren’t lazy and flat, but boy they were and Fort Dodge made us pay.”

The Dodgers tacked on two runs in the first with a passed ball setting up Cory Alexander to score on a wild pitch before Michael Stover tacked on an RBI groundout.

Stover tallied a two-run double to deep center in the third and JC Hatcher scored on Sam Kolacia’s groundout to push the margin to 5-0. Kole Kampen’s single to right plated Kolacia in the fifth and the sophomore scored again when Thomas Hartley reached on an error in the seventh.

Austin Halligan finished 3-of-4 from the leadoff spot, Stover drove in three runs and Kolacia added two hits as Fort Dodge racked up 11 overall. MHS mustered just six hits led by Joe Rebik’s pair and stranded eight baserunners.

Austin Sowers surrendered seven runs (six earned) with one strikeout over seven innings in the loss. Stover went the distance for the Dodgers, issuing 17 first-pitch strikes to the 29 batters he faced.

Game two had a similar tone at the start with Stover laying a bunt down the third base line to score Alexander in the first. The Bobcats couldn’t capitalize with a small-ball attempt of their own and left the bases loaded in their opening at-bat. MHS stranded its first 14 runners of the evening and left 17 on base for the night.

“In game two we did nothing for four innings,” Hanson said. “We did not execute early and they did.

“We weren’t able to move our runners when we wanted to and in games like this against opponents like this, if you can’t do that when you want to, you typically lose.”

Diveney helped his cause with a triple to deep left to open the fifth and Thimesch drove him in with a bloop single to right center.

Michael Schrempf led off the sixth with a double in the right center gap before Hatcher replaced Kampen on the hill. Bjelland legged out a bunt single when Kolacia’s throw came late after eyeing down Schrempf for too long at second. Diveney drew an intentional walk to load the bases, before Thimesch drew his RBI walk and Bjelland came across on a passed ball.

Marshalltown’s recent surge including three wins over a pair of ranked 4A foes in the last 48 hours is reason to believe the Bobcats have made major strides though that will reveal itself in the coming weeks.

“You have to be really satisfied if you take a step back and just look at the big picture,” Hanson said. “I hope it means that we’ve made some progress and that we’ve become a better team because frankly we don’t have much time now. We’re down to about a week and then all the chips go into the middle and you play.

“If you have a lapse in an inning or a lapse in execution, that could be the one single lapse that gets you putting the bats away for the season.”

Notebook

The Bobcats host Mason City in a CIC Northern Division twin bill at 5 p.m. on Monday before hosting Waukee at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The Bobcats will also host the Mohawks for their substate tournament opener July 18 at 7 p.m.