By ROGER THOMAS
---- — BLOOMFIELD – The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets have used wins in six of their last seven games, including five in a row, to grab the top spot alone in the tough South Central Conference baseball standings.
Thursday night in Bloomfield, the Rockets swept Davis County, 16-3 and 12-6. Those wins, combined with Centerville’s split at Albia, left EBF alone atop the SCC with a 9-1 record a game ahead of both the Big Reds.
In the opener, a misplayed pop up in the opening inning by the Mustangs turned into a run for the visitors. Chance Wursta had the
RBI. E-B-F added a run in the second to go up 2-0. Cole Maines’ bad hop single to short drove in Louie Winkelman, who had doubled just ahead of him.
Sometimes, it just takes some kind of break to get a player going on a big night. The bad hop hit certainly did that for Maines, who would go 3-3 with five RBI in the first game. Maines, hitting in the eighth spot in the order, talked about his night.
“This is probably the best single game I’ve ever had. I just try and adjust my swing with two strikes,” Maines said after adding two more hits in the nightcap.
Davis County threatened in the home second of game one. They would leave the bases loaded in the frame, leaving EBF ahead 2-0.
“We just can’t do that and expect to stay in the game,” said Mustang coach Todd White.
The Rockets made the Mustangs pay for stranding those runners by going up 5-0 with a three-run third. E-B-F had three hits in the inning including the big blow coming on a two-run double by Maines.
EBF sent 13 hitters to the plate in the top of the fourth to put the opening game away. Six hits and a Mustang error led to eight Rocket runs. Christian Bambrook had a two-RBI single and Maines added his fourth RBI to highlight the inning.
The score went to 16-0 after E-B-F used four hits to add their final three runs. Jeren Glosser and Trevor Swartz singled in runs and Maines third hit drove in his fifth run of the game in the top of the fifth.
The Mustangs would finally get to Swartz, the E-B-F game one starting pitcher, with a three-spot in the bottom of the fifth. Mac Chilton doubled to drive in two of the runs, but it wouldn’t be enough to extend the opener to a sixth inning.
The bottom four hitters in the Rocket line-up combined for seven hits and eight RBIs.
“This group of hitters in our line-up has had other good nights,” said Rocket coach Rod Ashman. “This was really a strong game for them.”
The visitors grabbed an early lead in game two by scoring three runs in the top of the first. A two-out EBF rally that started with a Bambrook double, Wursta single, and Cory Archer walk was capped by starting pitcher Jevin Jensen’s bases-clearing double.
The game seemed to be taking the same path as game one when E-B-F added two runs in the second to go up 5-0. An error by the Davis County pitcher Wyatt Garmon and a bases loaded walk scored the runs.
Four Mustang hits and a Rocket error helped the Mustangs pull to within one at 5-4 after two. Chilton had a double to lead off the
inning and a two-out double by Calvin Utt drove in two Mustangs.
The Rockets went up 6-4 with a run in the third. The Mustangs averted further damage by using a fly out to left that turned into a
7-6-5 double play to end the inning.
It was the second double play started by an outfielder in as many innings. The D.C. defense turned four double plays in game two.
“Our guys made some plays that really helped us stay in the game,” said White.
The guy that benefitted the most from the defensive work was relief pitcher Drew Thornsberry. Thornsberry came on in the second and would give up only two runs over 4 1/3 innings.
“Drew did an outstanding job considering the opponent and situation,” added White.
Davis County tied the game in the fifth. After a tough second inning, Jensen breezed through the third and fourth
for E-B-F before running into trouble in the fifth.
With two outs and two runners on, Ashman went to his bullpen and called on Bambrook, his hard throwing right hander.
“I had talked with him and told him that I was going to wait as long as I could before bringing him in,” said Ashman. “I thought the time was right.”
Bambrook would walk the first hitter he faced to load the bases. Park Mikels lined a sharp single to the gap in right-center to
tie the game.
“Playing first base like I was doesn’t give me many throws to get my arm loose. I just had a little trouble finding my spot in the zone,” said Bambrook. “This is the spot I really want to be in, a closer in a tight game.”
E-B-F took the lead for good in the sixth as a Wursta’s single scored the go-ahead run. The inning could have been bigger if not for an outstanding running, diving catch by Mikels in center. Mikels was just trying to one-up Brett Dean, who had made a diving catch of his own just an inning or two earlier.
Bambrook would then have a lot to do with closing out the win. He would finish his relief stint by striking out four Mustangs over his
final two innings.
The Rockets seemed to be a loose confident group throughout the doubleheader.
“We are most definitely a loose group,” said Ashman. “I think it really helps us handle tight situations.”
E-B-F sent 10 hitters to the plate in the seventh. They would add five runs to go up 12-6. Bambrook’s grand slam to deep center was the blow that gave the Rockets the sweep of the doubleheader.
“Our guys really fought back in game two,” said White.
Davis County (8-13, 3-9) will play in the Burlington’s Tournament today. E-B-F (13-3, 9-1) plays Bondurant-Farrar today in the Pella Christian tournament.