Dog days of NCC

WEBSTER CITY – Algona’s leisurely stroll through the North Central Conference came to a conclusion last night at Lynx Field.

And if you think it’s a fluke the Bulldogs went from a bottom feeder a season ago to the toast of the league this season, well, think again.

They’re for real. Really real.

“They were better than us and they’re a darned good baseball team,” WCHS head coach Troy Smock said after his squad tipped its cap to the Bulldogs following their 7-1 win over the Lynx. “They’ve got guys you can’t get out, they have long at bats and they make the defensive plays. Even though you’ve got Clear Lake, coming into that (Class 3A) substate of eight teams, in my opinion, they’re right there as the team to beat.”

No. 9-ranked Algona (23-7, 17-1 NCC) – winners of eight of nine – sprayed 11 hits to all areas of the field and never missed a beat until an uncharacteristically bad defensive inning in the seventh, but by then WCHS (12-12, 7-10 NCC) was too far back to make a serious threat.

Senior right-handed starting pitcher Weston Shaw worked four uneventful innings to improve to 9-0 on the season. He allowed just two hits – a first-inning infield single and a third-inning liner to left, both off the bat of WCHS senior Trey Tesdahl – and struck out two. Shaw lowered his already minuscule ERA to 0.58.

Classmate Tyler Frideres took over in the fifth and limited the Lynx to one hit – an infield base knock by Ben Mossman. He fanned six of the 13 batters that he faced.

“We weren’t as sharp as we can be, but that happens,” Smock said. “You get down after a loss, but hopefully we can take some things from this. We hung around and hung around.”

Courtesy runner Cory Keenan scored the Lynx lone run in the seventh. Algona made three defensive miscues in the frame and they prevented a shutout.

Mossman, one of four Lynx players to be honored on Senior Night, took the loss on the bump. High with his pitches throughout his two-inning stint, he allowed four hits and five earned runs. He walked four and struck out two.

“Ben threw well in the pen (during pregame), but he just wasn’t finding the zone,” Smock said. “I don’t know if it was the (cold) weather or what, but those things happen sometimes.”

Algona’s patience at the plate paid off with three runs in the opening inning. Frideres lashed an RBI single and later scored on a double steal, and Brandon Lloyd plated another run on a deep fly ball to right field.

Frideres struck again in the second, as he hammered a Mossman offering into the gap in right-center for an RBI triple. He trotted home on a wild pitch moments later to push the Bulldogs’ cushion to 5-0.

Frideres went 3-for-5 at the plate. Blake Elsbecker added a pair of base hits and an RBI. Lloyd chipped in a pair of base hits and Cameron Lahndorf smacked an RBI double in the fifth inning.

WCHS will close out the regular season at home this evening against Boone before it turns its attention to third-ranked Clear Lake and Friday’s district semifinal showdown.

“We’ve got one more chance to come out on our home field, so we’ll crank it up again (tonight),” Smock said.