OTTUMWA — Ottumwa head baseball coach John Jaeger expected it to be close.
Sure, he was referencing where the Bulldogs stood in terms of positioning among the six teams in Class 4A, Substate 7 entering the week when final pairings would be released by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
But frankly, in his first summer at the helm of Ottumwa baseball, Jaeger could have been referencing anything. He’s certainly come to expect it to be close whenever his Bulldogs have stepped on the field for action this season.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs got the news that the narrow difference between hosting a postseason opener and traveling on Friday, July 19, did not go Ottumwa’s way as the Bulldogs garnered a No. 4 seed in their substate and trip to Des Moines Lincoln. On Wednesday, that narrow difference was on full display for Bulldog fans at Legion Memorial Field not once, but twice as the Ottumwa dropped back-to-back one-run, eight-inning decisions to Indianola 4-3 and 6-5.
“It seems like we’ve played seven or eight games now where we’ve had a lead late in the game and the game hasn’t come out our way,” Jaeger said. “To me, what it comes down to is making plays when you have the opportunity to and then also to create some of those breaks that you can get in a close game.”
A break or two on Wednesday could have been the difference in Ottumwa picking up two CIML Metro Conference wins. Then again, a break or two this season could have been the difference in the Bulldogs getting to play postseason baseball at Legion Field.
“Those breaks are made by us. It’s not the other teams that are doing it. It was in our hands and we just didn’t come through when we needed to in order to get that home field advantage,” Jaeger said.