NEWARK, Ohio — Baseball season is officially over for a group of Southeast Iowa boys.
The 12-member Iowa squad earned a win Monday evening at the Babe Ruth World Series, 10-4, over New Jersey, but the Midwest will still be absent when bracket play starts today.
“They played real good ball. We only had one error, it makes a difference,” said Ottumwa coach Cal Evans.
The Iowa team lost three straight games to teams from Ohio, California and Alabama before capturing a victory Monday.
The squad was led by Calvin Mathews, who racked up nine strikeouts through seven innings of pitching. Mathews gave up three of his four runs in the sixth inning to Alex Govin’s three-run home run.
Drew Utterback cranked two RBI on two hits, including a double. Utterback led the squad throughout the entire tournament, compiling seven hits on 12 at-bats with a home run, triple and five RBI. Jory Heckenberg drove in four RBI throughout the tourney and batted a strong .500. Two of Heckenberg’s RBI came on Monday.
“Heckenberg earned the game MVP,” said Evans, of his players performance on Monday. “He played third for me and he didn’t let anything by him.”
It was Licking County, Ohio, the tournament hosts, who notched four runs against Ottumwa to advance to bracket play. Had Ottumwa been capable of holding Licking County to just three runs, or getting a win, an Iowa representative would still remain strong in the tournament.
“There was a three-way tie,” said Ottumwa coach Cal Evans. “We missed going into bracket play by one run.”
The three-way tie was between Licking County, New Jersey and Ottumwa.
Against Licking County, the Ottumwa team committed five errors as first-game jitters seemed to bother the young squad in their.
“That game we needed a win,” said Evans. “They weren’t any batter than us. We did not play our game.”
The Iowa squad made just one error on Monday night and seemed to get stronger throughout pool play. On Saturday the squad lost to Mobile, Alabama 17-7. Alabama is favored to win the entire tournament.
“We made a few adjustments as coaches, but mostly it was getting the jitters out,” said Evans. “Getting off an airplane and staying in a host families’ home, that takes some adjusting.”
The squad may have fallen short in Newark for a shot at being Babe Ruth champions, but it does little to hurt what the team’s already accomplished this season in winning not only a state title, but being Plains Regional champions as well.
“We can be real proud of all the communities around Ottumwa at how good the ball teams are,” said Evans.
The squad intends on leaving Wednesday from Ohio to head back to the Hawkeye state, and it may not be a moment too soon.
“The host families told me they didn’t know if they’re going to let the boys go yet,” said Evans. “They think they about have our Hawkeye boys converted to Buckeyes.”
Ottumwa 10, New Jersey 4
Ottumwa battery — Calvin Mathews (W) (7IP, 5H, 4R, 9K, 2BB)
2B — Jory Heckenberg, Jake Stalzer.
Hits — Josh Martsching 1-for-3, Drew Utterback 2-for-4, Heckenberg 2-for-4, Zach Throckmorton 1-for-4, Mathes 1-for-2, Stalzer 2-for-3.
RBI — Martsching, Utterback 2, Heckenberg 2, Throckmorton, Ben Lott. Runs — Martsching 2, Jarrod Swallow, Heckenberg 2, Utterback, Stalzer, Tyler Evans 2.