By ROGER THOMAS Courier correspondent
---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Bulldog baseball team came into Friday’s doubleheader with Marshalltown riding a five game winning streak.
After Ottumwa scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win the opener 7-6, they seemed destined to add to the streak the next time out.
The next time out was game two. When they led 7-5 heading to the seventh, it looked like the string would reach seven.
A walk, a hit batsman, a sacrifice bunt, and a two-RBI single by Bobcat Ryan Mitchell tied the game at seven. The Bulldogs went down in order in the seventh and the game headed to extra innings. Neither team scored in the eighth but in the ninth, Marshalltown scored the go-ahead run on a Bulldog throwing error. The Bulldogs had a base runner thrown out at third in the ninth and Marshalltown escaped with the 8-7 win.
“It was a disappointing loss because we lost a two run lead late,” said Ottumwa baseball coach John Jaeger said. “As a team we understand, if we can win six or seven of our next seven, it will really help our seed position.”
In game one, neither starting pitcher got what he deserved. Marshalltown’s Blake Judkins went 6 1/3 innings giving up only four hits and only one earned run but took the loss.
The Bulldogs got a strong start from Cooper Smith. He went 6 1/3 innings yielding only six hits and two unearned for a no decision.
Ottumwa took a 1-0 lead in the first. Lead-off hitter, Seth Griffiths, was hit by a pitch and Spencer Fuller started his productive opener in which he reached base three times in four plate appearances with an RBI double.
Marshalltown tied it at one in the second and finally went up 2-1 in the top of the sixth by executing a successful double steal. The Bulldogs bounced back in a big way by scoring four runs in their half of the inning.
With two outs and a runner on, Fuller was intentionally walked. Blake Mooney foiled the strategy with an RBI single.
“I just tried to stay calm and relaxed and to take advantage of the opportunity to help the team,” said Mooney.
The second Bulldog run scored on an errant pick-off throw. After a walk, Tyler Johns had a two-RBI triple to put Ottumwa up 5-2.
The Ottumwa defense committed three errors in the top of the seventh, allowing the Bobcats to score four unearned runs for a 6-5 lead.
“Our defense has been pretty solid,” said Jaeger. “That was definitely uncharacteristic of us.”
The top four hitters in the Bulldog line-up were only one for 11 in the first game but all contributed to the two runs scored to win it. Griffiths drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Colin Schultz’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Kyle Keck’s fly ball to center was dropped and the Bulldogs tied it at six. Fuller was then walked intentionally for the second time.
“I’ve never been walked twice intentionally in a game,” said Fuller. “I’ve been hitting good lately. I guess they did the right thing.”
Mooney, the next hitter, struck out but the low pitch went back to the screen and Griffiths scampered home with the winning run.
Another Bulldog with a strong game one performance was catcher Seth Staton. He threw out four Bobcat runners trying to steal.
The Bobcats opened game two with a run in the first. The Bulldogs took a quick 3-1 lead as Fuller and Mooney each had RBI doubles followed by Mitch Stuchel’s RBI single.
Marshalltown’s two second inning runs tied it at three but the Bulldogs added two in the home second. The top of the order started to take over for Ottumwa. Schultz had an RBI triple and Keck followed with a RBI double.
Marshalltown added single runs in the third and fourth to tie it at five. Again, the Bulldogs answered. Cody Miller led off the Ottumwa fourth with a triple. Then the top of the order again banged away at the Bobcat pitching. Schultz had his second triple to drive in a run and Keck singled for the other RBI. Fuller followed with his second game two hit but was stranded.
“Our guys at the top have been strong, so it was good to get them going,” said Jaeger. “We’ve also had big games from the bottom of our order as well.”
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs would only have three base runners and go scoreless over the next five innings. Mitchell’s two RBI single let the Bobcats pull even at seven in the seventh.
After a scoreless eighth, the Bobcats turned a lead-off walk into the winning run. Mitchell doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. Marshalltown scored the winning run on an errant Bulldog throw to third.
In the bottom of the ninth, Keck had his third hit of game two, a single, with two out. The Bulldog rally was cut short as Keck was called out at third, trying to take two bases on a passed ball, on a close and questionable call.
“These were two similar teams that play the game the right way,” said Jaeger.
Ottumwa (11-10) had Monday off thanks to rain as their scheduled JV/varsity doubleheader with Mount Pleasant at Legion Field was postponed. The Bulldogs return to the diamond Wednesday afternoon in a CIML Metro Conference doubleheader at Des Moines Lincoln starting at 3:30 p.m.
Ottumwa 7, Marshalltown 6
MAR 010 001 4 --- 6 7 4
OTT 100 004 2 --- 7 4 3
Marshalltown battery --- Judkins (LP) (6 1/3IP, 4H, 7R, 1ER, 5K, 4BB), Connor Ruddick catching.
2B — Grant Thimesch, Judkins.
3B — none.
HR — none.
Hits —Mitchell 1-for-4, Thimesch 1-for-2, Judkins 2-for-3, Michael Schrempf 1-for-2, Austin Sowers 1-for-3, Tyler Moranville 1-for-1.
RBI — Judkins, Sowers.
Runs — Thimesch 2, Dylan Diveney, Mason McCarville, Sowers, Ruddick.
Ottumwa battery — Smith (WP) (7IP, 6H, 5R, 2ER, 2K, 3BB), Staton catching.
2B — Fuller.
3B — Johns.
HR — none.
Hits — Fuller 1-for-2, Mooney 1-for-4, Smith 1-for-2, Johns 1-for-3.
RBI — Fuller, Mooney, Johns 2.
Runs — Griffiths 2, Schultz, Fuller, Mooney, Miller, Spencer Nelson .
Marshalltown 8, Ottumwa 7 (9)
MAR 121 100 201 — 8 12 1
OTT 320 200 000 — 7 12 1
Marshalltown battery — Diveney (3 2/3IP, 8H, 7R, 6ER, 4K, 2BB), Moranville (1 2/3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB), Colton Hanke (2/3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB) and Mitchell (WP) (3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB), Justice Bjelland and McCarville catching.
2B — Mitchell.
3B — none.
HR — none.
Hits — Mitchell 4-for-4, Thimesch 2-for-5, Hunter Hillygus 2-for-6, Hanke 1-for-1, Moranville 1-for-2, McCarville 2-for-4 .
RBI — Mitchell 3, Hillygus, Moranville, McCarville.
Runs — Mitchell 2, Hillygus, Hanke, Sowers, Moranville, Diveney, McCarville.
Ottumwa battery — Jacob Black (2IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0K, 1BB), Jesse Hannam (3IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 1BB), Keck (2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 2BB) and Austin Denniston (LP) (2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 1K, 2BB), Staton catching.
2B — Schultz, Keck, Fuller, Mooney.
3B — Schultz 2, Miller.
HR — none.
Hits — Schultz 3-for-5, Keck 3-for-4, Fuller 2-for-4, Mooney 1-for-4, Stuchel 1-for-4, Miller 1-for-4, Staton 1-for-3.
RBI —Schultz 2, Keck 2, Fuller, Mooney, Stuchel.
Runs — Schultz 2, Keck, Fuller, Mooney, Miller, Nelson.