OTTUMWA -- The Ottumwa baseball team split two games with a solid Waukee ballclub in about the oddest way imaginable Thursday at Legion Memorial Field.The first game featured an outstanding pitching dual between Bulldog Cooper Smith and the Warriors Malik Moore, in his varsity debut; and a bizarre ending that ended with Ottumwa forfeiting the game to the Warriors.
Affronted, The Bulldogs bounced back to shut out Waukee 10-0 in game two; a game that only lasted five innings because of the 10-run rule. The Bulldogs used an admixture of solid pitching, clutch hitting and superior fielding to thrash the Warriors in the nightcap.
"Every night I talk about how we have to put all three aspects together -- the hitting, the fielding the pitching," Ottumwa coach John Jaeger said. "In game one we did two -- pitching, fielding -- of the three, and, in game three, we put all three together."
Smith, who received excellent defensive support from his teammates, pitched brilliantly in his nine innings of work on the hill, allowing only five hits. Instead of blowing people away with his speed -- he finished with one strikeout --, Smith relied on his defense to make plays behind him.
"He worked well in the zone," Jaeger said about his pitcher. "He got ahead of the batters and really kept them off balance. A few guys really hit the ball hard, but the balls they hit went right at our guys."
Meanwhile, Moore kept the Bulldogs off-balance throughout game, recording 16 strikeouts and surrendering just three hits. The game ended after Smith threw just three pitches in the top of the of the 10th. Suddenly, Waukee's coach Mark Anderson took his players off the field. After a long break where no one, except for a few folks on the field, knew what was going on. Eventually, the umpires, Jaeger and Anderson met at home plate to hash things out. The result? Ottumwa forfeiting the game to Waukee.
It turned out that, according to Iowa High School rules, pitchers can't throw more than nine innings in the game. Since Ottumwa had accidentally broken this rule, the Bulldogs, whether they chose to continue to the game or not, would ultimately have to forfeit the game.
"I just got caught up in the whole game," Jaeger said. "I was aware of it [the rule], which is what kind of bums me out that we lost it off that. That was a great played high school baseball game."The option is you can finish it and what happens then is there AD (Activities director) calls our AD and eventually it becomes a forfeit anyway. So, you either A) play it out, or B) just call it then, and I chose to forfeit because I didn't want our guys to go forth and win that ball game and find out later that we had to forfeit."
Instead of moping over the unlucky break, the Bulldogs came out reinvigorated in game two. Seth Griffiths, who had a rough first game at the plate, came up huge for the Bulldogs in the nightcap. With Ottumwa already leading 1-0, Griffiths ripped a three-run double into the left centerfield gap that upped the Bulldogs lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second. Schulz followed with a double of his own that increased Ottumwa's lead to 5-0.
The Bulldogs lead had increased to 6-0 when Schulz ripped a three-run double in the bottom of the fifth that increased Ottumwa's lead to 9-0. The Bulldogs extracted one more run from the inning off a Warrior error to pick up the victory.
"We realized we didn't get things done in nine innings of the first game, so we knew we had to get things done in the second game," Collin Schulz said.
Ottumwa (6-9, 5-3) plays at Dest Moines North Monday in CIML Metro Conference action.