By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA – The Ottumwa baseball team was swept by Des Moines East in two distinctively different games Wednesday at Legion Memorial Field in CIML Metro Conference action.
The Bulldogs were shut out 11-0 in game one, and the Scarlets rallied from a 7-1 deficit to defeat Ottumwa 13-8 in the nightcap.
"We have to start playing together," Ottumwa coach John Jaeger said. "We have to cut down on mental mistakes, but we also have to cut down on physical mistakes. We have to not give them extra outs."
Jacob Jones suffered the loss on the mound in the front half of the doubleheader. He allowed six runs, four of them earned; on three hits in two innings of work before he was relieved by Cody Miller. Miller allowed five runs, only two of them earned; on five hits in two innings.
Ottumwa couldn't muster much offense in this one, as Mitch Stuchel and Spencer Fuller were the only Bulldogs to record hits in the game.
Ottumwa, however, got off to a strong start in game two. The boys reeled off seven runs off the Scarlets sidearm knuckle ball pitcher Dillon Hernandez in the bottom of the first to take an early 7-1 lead. Ottuma's big inning featured an admixture of hits, walks and batters who got plunked by Hernandez, who struggled with control problems in the first inning. In fact, the Bulldogs first run came when Hernandez beaned Blake Mooney with the bases juiced, which allowed Griffiths to trot home from third.
Then Stuchel drove home Collin Schulz with a single to make it 2-0. A sacrifice fly by Spencer Fuller, who started the game at pitcher for Ottumwa; and a walk by Cody Miller with the bases loaded upped the Bulldogs' lead to 4-0. A couple batters later, Griffiths, in his second at bat of the inning, tattooed a line drive single that a Scarlets outfielder mishandled, which allowed three more Ottumwa runners to cross home plate to make it 7-1 Bulldogs.
East began to chip away at Ottumwa's lead in the third inning, scoring two runs to narrow the gap to 7-3. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Chino Alcala skied a home run over the right field wall to make it 7-4. The offensive floodgates, however, didn't really open for the Scarlets until the top of the sixth.
Meanwhile, after its tremendous start, Ottumwa's offense struggled to produce offensively.
"We can't coast," second baseman Tyler Johns said. "We have to keep pouring it on and keep scoring runs."
Hernandez, after his nightmarish first inning, went on to give up only one run in his final five frames. Kyle Keck, however, didn't think Ottumwa's offensive struggles were related to anything the Scarlets knuckle baller did or didn't do after his stormy start.
"I don't really ever think he [Hernandez] settled in," Keck said. "I don't think he ever got stronger, we just got less patient with him."
In top of the sixth, the Scarlets, partly thanks to a two-run single by Robert Hansen and a two-run double by Austin Robbins, ripped off seven runs to take an 11-7 lead. Fuller was relieved by Jesse Hannam in the inning with two Scarlet runners on base. Hannam, however, struggled from the start, and was replaced by Austin Denniston, who closed out the inning.
Griffiths singled and scored in the bottom of the sixth, but East scored two more runs in the seventh and went on to pick up the victory. Johns went 2-2 at the plate and Griffiths went 2-5 in the nightcap.
Ottumwa (5-8, 4-4) plays Waukee today at Legion Memorial Field.