’Cats capitalize to clout Mohawks
Bobcat junior Colton Hanke was good on the mound for the Marshalltown baseball team Friday against rival Mason City.
The Bobcat junior was in complete control of all of his pitches as he allowed six hits and fanned five over seven innings during the Bobcats’ 4-0 victory over the Mohawks in Class 4A Substate 2 first-round action at the MHS diamond.
Two of Mason City’s six hits were infield singles and Hanke also walked none in the victory. The Mohawks only got past second base once in the loss.
“He threw strike one, he had no walks and he was the main reason we won tonight,” said Marshalltown coach Steve Hanson. “The most gratifying part was that he had a really, really, really tough night on Tuesday against Waukee. Coming off a tough outing, it’s a character builder by him to come out here and be dominant and want the ball.”
Hanke got support at the plate from a host of Bobcat seniors, most notably Justus Bjelland, who finished with two doubles, a run and an RBI.
Dylan Diveney also had a big two-out, two-run single in Marshalltown’s two-run second to give the Bobcats a cushion on the scoreboard and Austin Sowers contributed a double and scored a run in the sixth inning as the Bobcats went 5-0 against Mason City this season.
“Justus had a big night at the plate,” said Hanson. “That’s what you hope for this time of year from your seniors. There are no guarantees, and you need leadership from the guys who lead. Our seniors were good tonight.”
The loss for Mason City (8-30) epitomized the Mohawks’ season. The Bobcats’ Central Iowa Conference Northern Division rival suffered nine one-run losses and were 2-12 in games decided by two runs or less this season. The Mohawks also ended their season by losing 20 of their final 21 games.
An early error put the Mohawks in a deficit and the visitors never recovered despite a solid effort on the mound from Matt Schneider.
“The game kind of personifies our season. We were competitive night in and night out,” said Mason City coach Troy Rood. “Any time you make just one mistake against a Steve Hanson team, they always will take advantage of it. You don’t have any margin of error with that team.”
Besides Hanke’s dominance on the bump, Hanson said the fast start was big.
Diveney reached on an error to lead off the first frame and then moved up two bases on Grant Thimesch’s sacrifice bunt. Joe Rebik then drove home Diveney to give Marshalltown an early lead and then a two-out, two-run single by Diveney in the second inning put the home team up 3-0. That’s all Hanke needed in support of his gem.
“That was huge to get ahead like that,” said Hanson. “To have a lead in a very short game, it really restricts what they can do on the other side. It eliminates the running game and small ball because you can’t afford to give up outs when you get down early.”
Mason City’s offense only threatened against Hanke in the second and fourth innings.
In the second, Nick Frenz reached on a fielder’s choice and then took second on a balk. Hanke got Connor Moorman swinging though to retire the side. Ethan McHenry, who had two of the Mohawks’ six hits, singled in the fourth and then Drew Walswick reached on a fielder’s choice. Frenz’s infield single put two runners on base and Walswick went to third following the Bobcats’ only error of the game.
Hanke though got out of the jam after getting Moorman to fly out to right field.
“He threw what we thought he would throw. We knew the curve ball would be his featured pitch and he pitched to the plan we thought he would, but credit him, he executed the game plan against us,” said Rood. “He kept us off balance and pitched to the plan that Coach Hanson drew up. We were unable to come up with the two-out hits and that is something we haven’t got all season.”
The win pushes the Bobcats (22-17) to Monday’s substate second round where they will travel to second-seeded Cedar Falls (27-10) for a 7 p.m. contest. The Tigers trailed Waterloo East 5-3 before rallying for a 9-5 win.
The Bobcats, who have won six of their last eight games, trailed the Tigers 5-0 in the first inning of last year’s substate first-round game but rallied to win 9-6 thanks to 10 Cedar Falls errors.
“We are down to 24 teams so everyone is pretty good. You won’t play a dog at this point,” said Hanson of the 2014 Cedar Falls Tigers, who are currently ranked seventh in 4A. “It’s essentially the same team. They were very erratic last year and made some errors. You’ll see the same group of guys in a bunch of different positions. They have tightened up their defense.”
The winner of Monday’s second-round game will get eighth-ranked Southeast Polk in Wednesday’s substate final. The top-seeded Rams (28-13) blew past Waterloo West, 10-0, on Friday to earn a bye in the next round.
Five of Marshalltown’s seven hits came from seniors as Mason McCarville also singled in the second inning. … Former Major League Baseball catcher Jeff Clement and a host of former Bobcat baseball players were back in town to witness the Bobcats’ win. The list also included current Kansas State pitcher Jake Whaley, Blake and Jordan Judkins, and Jeff Clement’s older brother Jason. “There is nothing more fun in coaching than to have the old guys come back,” said Hanson. “There were a bunch of old guys back tonight.” … Former Bobcat Ben Buchan also had a big night on the diamond. He is in his first year as Des Moines Hoover’s head coach and the Huskies knocked off defending state semifinalist and current No. 5 Des Moines East, 8-3, to advance to Monday’s second round. “He works at it and is very well prepared,” said Hanson of the 1995 Marshalltown graduate. “I am very happy for him. That’s a major exclamation point for that program.”