Trojans cut down by Clear Creek-Amana again in first round

WILLIAMSBURG – Seth Koch had explained the situation and his Trojans had practiced their approach.

The final piece of the puzzle lay in the execution.

Unable to gain a grip on Clear Creek-Amana’s small-ball attack, South Tama County surrendered three runs on back-to-back-to-back suicide squeeze bunts during a five-run third as the Clippers pulled away for a 10-3 victory Friday in a Class 3A District 9 semifinal.

“We spent two hours in practice yesterday just on defense and we talked about those situations specifically,” STC’s head coach Koch said. “You can do the best you can and put kids in the right spot to make plays, but it still comes down to the kids having to make plays and we didn’t make plays tonight.”

The Clippers (19-17) tallied six hits in their big inning with the trio of well-placed RBI bunts extending their lead to 7-2.

Travis Bowman (3-6) went the distance scattering five hits in a six-strikeout, one-walk outing as Clear Creek-Amana improved to 3-0 against STC after a doubleheader sweep in Tama Monday.

The Trojans (16-17) knotted the game at 2-all in the top of the third with Blake Keller dropping a single over the shortstop, Kolton Smith ripping an RBI triple off the right center field fence and Colson Frakes plating the tying run on a double to the left center gap.

STC continued to hit the ball hard but each went right to a Clipper resulting in three straight flyouts before the Clear Creek-Amana bats offered a rebuttal in the bottom half.

Tanner Bandy doubled down the third base line and Nile Rourke blooped an RBI single over second to chase starter Cody Kellogg. Stephen Jensen greeted sophomore lefty Colson Frakes with an RBI triple to center, Cody Wagner was hit by a pitch and Kobey Schlotman loaded the bases on a walk before the Clippers’ small-ball attack took over.

Cody Ogden sent a dribbler toward third before Jake Neubauer and Jacob Klingeman each bunted just out of the reach of Frakes as the Clippers crushed any momentum the Trojans established in their previous at-bat.

“We try to be really aggressive on the base paths and the situation just presented itself where we had really smart baserunners on the bases and really good bunters at the dish,” Clippers coach Brent Henry said of the trio of suicide squeeze bunts. “It’s a little bit easier (against) a lefty because his back is turned to third base so we can get pretty good jumps on it.”

Clear Creek-Amana claimed 13 extra bases taking advantage of three Trojan errors, two passed balls and a wild pitch to end South Tama’s season for the second year in a row.

The Clippers pieced together two more runs in the fourth with back-to-back walks, a double steal and an RBI single from Robby Swails forcing Koch to use his third pitcher of the evening – junior Dalton Doyle. Wagner came across on the first of two Trojan miscues in the inning to extend the lead to 9-2.

Smith cut into the deficit in the fifth sneaking a solo shot just inside the right field pole for his eighth homer of the season. The North Iowa Cedar League West Division co-MVP and lone senior on the STC roster finished 2-for-3 at the dish with two RBIs.

Wagner capped the scoring with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth as the Clippers tallied 12 hits and stranded as many baserunners.

Koch set three goals in place for his team’s success but the Trojans came up short in each en route to their sixth straight loss.

“We had to keep the leadoff hitter from reaching base, we couldn’t give them more than seven free bases and defensively we had to know where we were going with the baseball each time,” Koch said. “We failed in all three of those categories. I don’t even want to count how many free bases they had.”

Clear Creek-Amana’s leadoff batter reached base in five of the six innings with Ogden setting the tone in the first. The eighth-grader singled and stole second and third on a mishandled pickoff attempt at first before scoring on Neubauer’s sac fly. Wagner bunted his way on to start the next inning, stole second and scored on Neubauer’s single to right to spot a 2-0 lead.

Neubauer finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Wagner went 2-for-2 with an RBI and drew a free base twice.

Kellogg (5-3) allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, two walks and one hit batsman in two innings in the loss. South Tama hit three batters and walked six more in the game.

The Clippers will face Vinton-Shellsburg (12-29) in the district final Monday at 7 p.m. in Williamsburg. The Vikings upset Williamsburg (24-13) by a score of 6-5 in the other semifinal Friday.

Notebook

Smith was the lone senior on the STC roster and will continue his career at Kirkwood Community College in the fall. “He’s been an important part of our success over the last five years,” Koch said. “He’ll be very tough to replace and he’s a good kid to boot. We’ll miss him.”