GOOD ENOUGH: Far from perfect, Lynx trump depleted Trojans
BLAIRSBURG – Championship caliber baseball it was not, but Troy Smock has been around the diamond long enough to know that you never take a win for granted.
Even if it was less than aesthetically pleasing.
The Webster City baseball coach didn’t shy away from the mistakes his squad made during yesterday’s non-conference clash against a depleted Northeast Hamilton team. But the Lynx did rip the cover off the ball at times and that was enough to allow them to sail to a 12-4 victory.
The Trojans (5-9) were without starters Logan Seiser, Kyle Pruismann and Hunter Dilley. In their places were eighth graders Garrett Grady, Ben Rapp and Luke Rapp, and the inexperienced lineup showed, particularly early when WCHS raced out to a 4-0 lead before the first out was even recorded.
But Northeast Hamilton never waved the white flag, and the Trojans were able to take advantage of a sixth-inning defensive calamity by the Lynx to make things interesting for a while.
In other words, both coaches exited the field with plenty to work on in practice.
“It was not pretty baseball. Just the sloppy plays are the things I’m most disappointed in,” Smock said. “We played sort of like it was May and we’re sitting here at the end of June. If we’re building towards making a (postseason) run against some really good teams … we can’t have an effort like that, not even close. If we put together the effort I think we can, we can compete with anybody on any given night.”
“I”m very proud of the guys that we had out there,” NEH head coach Chace Pruismann said. “(The first inning) definitely knocked our guys down, but it didn’t knock us out. We came back and played solid baseball, but we just dug ourselves a hole.”
WCHS (9-8) – winners of four straight games and back over .500 for the first time since June 11 – rocked NEH pitchers Nick Jeffers and Austin Smith for 16 hits, including three doubles. Eight players laced at least one hit, six drove in at least one run and three plated multiple guys.
Clean-up stick Cal Zahn feasted like it was Thanksgiving Day. The junior went 4-for-4 with a double, four runs scored, three RBIs and two stolen bases. He reached base five times in all and would have easily had a home run had the wind not been blowing in from left field.
Ben Mossman went 3-for-5 at the top of the Lynx order and Drew Fielder finished 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs out of the No. 3 slot. Doug Stoakes hit behind Zahn and collected two singles and two RBIs in four plate appearances, and Trey Tesdahl was 2-for-4 with an RBI in back of Mossman near the top.
Dylan Fielder added an RBI double, Avery Fuhs produced a single and RBI, and Cole Zahn chipped in a base knock.
“I’m happy that some of the guys hit the ball well … hey, a win is a win and we’ve got four wins in a row,” Smock said. “I think we’ve got a good shot to finish the week perfect, too (tonight at Hampton-Dumont).”
Cal Zahn was part of a WCHS pitching trio that limited the Trojans to just three hits, and he snagged the win after retiring six straight batters, including two on strikes, in the third and fourth innings.
Trey Tesdahl went the first two innings and fanned three. NEH didn’t register a hit until Nick Jeffers laid down a bunt single off Dylan Fielder at the start of the fifth. Ben Rapp followed him with a single to left, and Garrett Grady singled in the sixth.
Tyler Smith drove in two of the Trojans’ runs.
NEH made three of its four errors in the first inning and they led to the early deficit. Dylan Fielder’s gapper to right-center in the fourth increased the WCHS edge to 7-1, and Cal Zahn scored in the sixth to make it 8-1.
Grady, Gabe Rapp and Tyler Smith all reached base to open the bottom of the sixth and all three eventually scored to shrink the Lynx cushion to 8-4. WCHS made all three of its errors during the stretch; a fourth miscue on a dropped pop-up was saved by a force-out at second.
Cole Zahn, Mossman, Tesdahl, Stoakes and Fuhs all ripped base hits in the seventh, and Cal Zahn’s towering double to left scored two of the four runs in the frame.
The WCHS pitching triumvirate struck out eight batters in all. Fielder joined Tesdahl with three.
Jeffers took the loss after an 88-pitch effort ended with back-to-back walks to open the sixth inning. He allowed 10 hits and eight runs, only five of which were earned; he allowed three free passes and whiffed two.
Austin Smith went the final two innings and gave up six hits.
WCHS and Hampton-Dumont will face off in Hampton this evening at 7:30 p.m. NEH will be back on its home diamond today for an ISC?meeting with Clarksville at 5 p.m.