By ROGER THOMAS
OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa baseball team increased its winning streak to five games with a sweep of West Des Moines Valley Thursday night at Legion Field.
The Bulldogs started the night with a 16-6 six-inning rout of the Tigers. Game two saw the Bulldogs score five early runs and then hold off Valley to win 5-4.
Ottumwa has had many great rivalries over the years starting with the Southeast Seven Conference. Since they moved to the Metro, the Bulldogs have developed rivalries with some of the Des Moines schools over the years, with Valley ranking near the top of the list. The rivalry made the sweep especially sweet for the Bulldogs.
Valley opened with a run in the first inning of game one. The Bulldogs answered with two runs of their own. Curtis Schneckloth led-off with a single, the first of his three hits in the game. Schneckloth had a big first game and a huge doubleheader. Brok Hopwood and Spencer Fuller delivered the RBIs. Ottumwa starting pitcher Chase Wood shut out the Tigers for the next three innings.
"Valley is a big rival and to get the win was really big," said Wood. "My curve ball was sharp and I think I really hit spots tonight."
The Bulldogs scored in two of those innings. The three-run second included a base hit by Luke McDonald, a Valley error, and a Schneckloth RBI. Ottumwa added a single run in the third on an RBI double by Chris Peden to go up 6-1.
The Tigers finally got to Wood in the fifth. They used three hits to pull within 6-4, but that just triggered the Ottumwa onslaught in the bottom half of the inning. A parade of 11 hitters went to the plate in what ended up being a seven-run inning that grew Ottumwa's lead to 13-4.
Schneckloth's second hit drove in two of the runs. Kurtis Rupe also singled in two, Hopwood doubled to drive in a run, and Wood helped his own cause with a double. Valley scored two in the sixth to narrow the gap to 13-6, but the Bulldogs tacked on three more in the bottom of the inning to end the rout. Rupe's second hit and Schneckloth's third hit, which drove in a run, helped Ottumwa close out the Tigers with just one out in the home sixth.
Ottumwa coach John Jaeger talked about the decisive win in game one and the turnaround his team has made.
"Execution had been the key on offense and defense," Jaeger said. "I also feel like we have a deep pitching staff."
Game two started just like game one. Valley scored a run in the top of the first and the Bulldogs added two in the bottom half of the inning. Schneckloth again led-off with a hit and would come around to score on a Valley error. Aaron Roane's two-out double gave Ottumwa an early 2-1 lead.
The first inning and early parts of the game were anything but routine. Bulldog starting pitcher Steven Wilson had to leave the game after the first because of a substitution that was necessary because of an injury to shortstop Chase Wood. Aaron Roane came on to pitch in the second.
"It wasn't as hard as it probably looked," Roane said. "I had warmed up some in the first game and I threw some between games. I just needed a few throws to get ready. I'm one of a variety of arms we can use and you just have to be ready."
The Bulldogs, as they had done in the first game, added three second-inning runs to go up 5-1. Spencer Nelson's one-out double started the rally and he went on to score on a wild pitch. Spencer Fuller added an RBI base hit and a Hopwood double drove in the third run. The Bulldogs were done scoring for the game.
Another injury, this time to Wood's back-up at short, Rupe, once again forced Jaeger to go to his bench for reinforcements.
"We were scrambling a little at that point," said Jaeger. "One of the good things about this team is that we have guys that we can move around defensively and still make plays."
Roane finished his three-inning stint by tossing a scoreless fourth. The Tigers, however, roughed up the Bulldog relief pitching for three runs on seven hits in the fifth and sixth. Ottumwa stranded three of its nine runners left on base in those two innings.
"We've struggled with that some but what I like now is that we have done a good job of not being struck out and being able to put the ball in play," said Jaeger. "That gives a chance at least to score those runs."
Wilson came back into the game in the seventh and blanked the Tigers in the inning for his third save of the week. He ended the game with two strikeouts.
"It was a little tough to come out after the first but it gave me time to focus on the game," said Wilson. "I didn't know until late that I could go back in, but I was still able to control my go to pitch — my curveball — and the save is just as good as the win."
"I don't know how long it's been since Ottumwa swept Valley, I'd have to look it up," said Jaeger. "It was a really good sweep and we need to use this to really build momentum."
The Bulldogs (6-6,3-1) will be back in action Monday night when they play host Indianola at Legion Memorial Field.
OTTUMWA 16, WEST DES MOINES VALLEY 6
WDMV 100 032 — 6 7 1
OTT 231 073 — 16 13 2
WDMV battery — Stalzer (LP),
Gabe Honnold catching.
2B — Jacob Rojohn 2, Keller Prien.
Hits — Jack Brandsgard 2-for-4, Prien 2-for-3, Rojohn 2-for-2, Gray 1-for-1 .
RBI — Brandsgard, Rojohn 2.
Runs — Brandsgard, Prien 2, Rojohn, Johnson, Gray.
OTT battery — Chase Wood (WP) (5IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 1K, 3BB), Colby Wagner (H) (1IP, 1H, 2R, 1ER, 0K, 1BB) Brok Hopwood catching.
2B — Wood, Hopwood, Chris Peden.
3B — Spencer Fuller.
Hits — Schneckloth 3-for-4, Wood 1-for-4, Hopwood 1-for-4, Fuller 2-for-3, Peden1-for-2, Luke McDonald 1-for-2, Kurtis Rupe 2-for-3, Spencer Nelson 2-for-4 .
RBI — Schneckloth 4, Wood, Hopwood 2, Fuller, Peden, Rupe 2.
Runs — Schneckloth 2, Trent Stuchel, Wood, Fuller 2, Peden 2, McDonald 3, Rupe 3, Nelson 2.
OTTUMWA 5, WDM VALLEY 4
WDMV 100 012 0 — 4 10 1 *
OTT 230 000 x — 5 7 1
WDMV battery — Blake Salsbury (LP) (2 2/3IP, 5H, 5R, 3ER, 5K, 4BB), Rojohn (2 2/3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 2BB), Alex Dornacker (2/3IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB) Mason Whitham, Honnold (3) catching.
Hits — Connor Sorge 1-for-3, Brandsgard 2-for-4, Prien 1-for-3, Rojohn 2-for-3, Jay Hrdlicka 1-for-4, Salsbury 1-for-1, Joe Clarke 1-for-4, Noah Reddig 1-for-3 .
RBI — Brandsgard, Prien, Rojohn.
Runs — Sorge 3, Reddig.
OTT battery — Aaron Roane (WP) (3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB), Cooper Smith (H) (2IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1K, 0BB), Steven Wilson (SV) (2IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3K, 1BB) Hopwood catching.
2B — Hopwood, Roane, Nelson.
Hits — Schneckloth 2-for-3, Fuller 1-for-2, Hopwood 1-for-3, Roane 1-for-3, McDonald 1-for-2, Nelson 1-for-3 .
RBI — Fuller, Hopwood, Roane.
Runs — Schneckloth 2, Fuller, Jake Waller, Nelson.