Knocked Around: Cowboys capitalize at plate, end NCC clash in 5

CLARION – Ahead 0-2 in the count, Webster City pitcher Daniel Halko had Ryan Waters right where he wanted him in the bottom of the fifth inning here Friday night.

Four pitches later Waters trotted to first base with a walk – the 10th of the night for the Cowboys.

Yep, it was a scratch-your-head kind of night for the Lynx.

Starting pitcher Cal Zahn walked seven and was called for three balks in 11?3 innings of work, and Halko issued three more free passes and was rocked for eight hits in 22?3 innings of relief, as the Cowboys battered Webster City, 12-2 in 5 innings, in the North Central Conference opener for both teams.

“We just weren’t sharp (Friday night), for whatever reason,” WCHS head coach Troy Smock said. “We’ve just got to keep playing. I think we’re going to be fine, but it’s just getting innings in and battling teams.”

The walk to Waters set the stage for Matt Odland to blast a three-run double to the fence in center, the exact number of runs Clarion-Goldfield (2-3, 1-0 NCC) needed to end the contest on the mercy rule.

Unable to get his curveball over the plate for strikes, Halko was forced to serve up chest-high fastballs during his stint on the hill and the Cowboys pounced. Trenton Sann also laced an RBI double four batters after Logan Reichter cranked a solo home run to left-center in the third inning.

“Typically (Halko) is strong and throws a lot of strikes, but it just wasn’t there (Friday night),” Smock said. “They took good hitters pitches, and conversely we had guys let pitches go by that we should have teed off on.”

Smock was forced to take Zahn off the mound early in the second inning after he walked four consecutive batters. Halko was greeted by a two-RBI single off the bat of Waters – part of Clarion-Goldfield’s five-run frame that extended its lead to 6-0.

Finding the strike zone wasn’t a problem for Sann, who went the distance on the bump for the Cowboys. Sann struck out four against no walks in five innings. WCHS (0-3, 0-1 NCC) touched him for just four hits.

Junior Doug Stoakes accounted for half of the Lynx hits. He followed up a first-inning double with a shot to center in the third for a two-run home run – his first of the season. It also scored Nelson Ball, who led off the inning with a single to left.

The remainder of the Lynx lineup went a combined 1-for-14. Alex Oswald added a single back up the middle in the second inning.

“Right now we’re leaning on Doug,” Smock said. “He’s one kid that I’m not going to be worried about. He’s consistent and whatever the pitching, he’s just solid.”

WCHS will return home as it continues to search for answers. The Lynx will host Eagle Grove this evening at 7:30 p.m.