CENTERVILLE — The Indian Hills baseball team is back on the winning track.
Still, Matthew Torrez isn't satisfied. Not even after an 8-6 win on Sunday that clinched IHCC's third straight win over Northeast. The Warriors bounced back from a 3-2 loss in Saturday's series opener to the Hawks, snapping a five-game losing streak emphatically with a 15-3 win to close out Saturday's doubleheader before earning a pair of two-run wins on Sunday.
The 2-0 and 8-6 victories were the net positive of the weekend. Torrez, however, is looking ahead to the Warriors being at their best in two weeks when postseason play begins.
"It's fun whenever you win baseball games, but we've left a whole lot of runners on base lately," Torrez said. "We've got to have better at-bats with runners in scoring position and do a better job maximizing our innings."
It was a fun end to the first homestand for the Indian Hills baseball team since earning the first doubleheader sweep of Iowa Western in six years with 3-2 and 2-1 (11) wins over the Reivers on Apr. 14. Suddenly, Indian Hills was 25-4 and just one game behind Iowa Western with high hopes of earning the regular-season Iowa Community College Athletic Conference title and home field advantage in the upcoming regional tournament.
How quickly things can change. Indian Hills entered this weekend having lost five of their previous six games, including two losses at Iowa Western allowing the Reivers to open a five-game lead in the ICCAC standings all but ensuring that IHCC will be seeded second in the regional tournament and will likely have to knock off Iowa Western in Council Bluffs if Indian Hills hopes to win a regional title for the second time in five years.
"I think we got little too fired-up over those first two games (with Iowa Western)," IHCC sophomore pitcher Nick Marshall said. "We just couldn't carry that energy over to the next weekend. That sent us into a little slump."
Northeast extended that slump on Saturday, holding off IHCC in the opening game as Maxim Fullerton's two-run tiebreaking single capped a three-run rally in the fourth inning for the Hawks. Indian Hills put the tying and winning runs on base in the seventh with one out before Ricardo Van Grieken grounded into a game-ending double play.
"I don't always get too involved in how our last game went. I try to discuss with the guys how we get better and how to make the right decisions at the right time," Torrez said. "At the end of the day, the conversations we're having are about effort. Effort means a lot of things. It's not just about playing hard. It's about knowing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it."
Indian Hills (29-10, 24-10 ICCAC) broke through in a big way to close out Saturday's doubleheader, taking advantage of five Northeast errors allowing eight unearned runs to score. The Warriors secured their 27th win by scoring nine times in the sixth with RBI hits by Shane Morrow, Samuel Fortier and Dave Janssen envoking the 10-run mercy rule.
"This was a pretty important series for us. Northeast was just a game behind us in the standings coming in," Torrez said. "We needed this series to help ensure that we'll be able to host at least our first postseason series."
Perhaps the best weapon for the Warriors, their starting pitching rotation, stepped up to help Indian Hills take the series. While Wyatt Wendell suffered a tough loss, allowing just three runs on four hits pitching into the seventh, Maddux Hoaglund and Douglas Rojas each protected their perfect records as Hoaglund improved to 6-0 pitching six innings in game two on Saturday while Rojas overcame three unearned runs in the first inning of Sunday's finale, pitching into the sixth allowing three hits while striking out seven batters.
Marshall, however, delivered IHCC's best start pitching six shutout innings allowing four hits while striking out seven batters. Arturo Rodriguez tripled and scored the first of two runs for the Warriors in the fifth inning of Sunday's opener while C.J. Castillo doubled in IHCC's second run.
"My last outing wasn't my best outing, for sure," Marshall said after bouncing back from a 10-3 loss to Kirkwood one week earlier. "I just had to get back to myself and get back to do what I do best, which is throw strikes, pounding the zone, attacking the hitters early and put the pitches in tough spots to hit."
Billy Rivera overcame two errors in the opening inning, helping Northeast open a 3-0 lead in Sunday's second game, by recording three hits in three consecutive innings. Indian Hills tied the game on RBI hits Morrow and Janssen in the third and took the lead for good when Rivera singled, took second on a passed ball and came home after drawing an errant throw from right field while tagging up on fly out by Ren Tachioka.
"It's big for us for guys to stay in there. Game four of a series is always a tough one. It's a long weekend for these kids," Torrez said. "To get in there and fight for everything all weekend is really important. It's all about who wants to stay in here and fight for all 32 innings."
Northeast (27-21, 21-13 ICCAC) nearly extended the series at least into the bottom of the ninth of Sunday's finale, cutting a four-run IHCC lead down to 8-6 on four straight hits of relief pitcher Gavin Hinckley. The Hawks put the tying run at second with no outs before Hinckley coaxed a shallow fly out to left, recorded IHCC's 33rd strikeout of the series and forced Cooper Whit into a groundout to Rivera, clinching the third straight win for the Warriors.
Indian Hills heads to Iowa Central on Wednesday. Action in Fort Dodge begins at 1 p.m.
Northeast 3, Indian Hills 2
NECC 000 300 0 — 3 4 0
IHCC 100 010 0 — 2 7 0
Northeast battery — Jeremy Schneider (W, 3-3) (5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, K, 5BB, HBP), Dylan Rodgers (IP, H) and Matt Dreher (S, 3) (IP, H, BB), Samuel Manwarren catching.
3B — Zane Zielinski.
Hits — Maxim Fullerton 2-3, Zielinski 2-3.
RBI — Fullerton 2, Zielinski.
Runs — Colin Lynam, Manwarren, Zielinski.
Indian Hills battery — Wyatt Wendell (L, 5-2) (6 1/3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 7K, 4BB) and Dade Hensley (2/3IP), Dave Janssen catching.
2B — Noel Perez, Ren Tachioka.
Hits — Perez 3-4, Tucker Ebest 1-2, Samuel Fortier 1-2, Ricardo Van Grieken 1-3, Ren Tachioka 1-4.
RBI — Van Grieken.
Runs — Perez, Tachioka.
Indian Hills 15, Northeast 3
NECC 001 011 0 — 3 6 5
IHCC 020 409 x — 15 9 1
Northeast battery — Christian Carew (L, 2-5) (5 2/3IP, 6H, 10R, 2ER, 5K, 4BB, HBP) and Josh Conn (1/3IP, 3H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 2HBP), Samuel Manwarren catching.
3B — Parker Dorrance.
Hits — Nick Carlson 3-3, Dorrance 1-3, Tyler Monroe 1-3, Cooper Whit 1-3.
RBI — Maxim Fullerton, Whit.
Runs — Carlson 2, Dorrance.
Indian Hills battery — Maddux Hoaglund (W, 6-0) (6IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 6K, 2BB) and Andrew Beissner (IP, K), Dave Janssen catching.
2B — Noel Perez.
Hits — Shane Morrow 2-3, Samuel Fortier 2-4, Janssen 2-4, Ren Tachioka 1-3, C.J. Castillo 1-4, Perez 1-5.
RBI — Janssen 3, Fortier 2, Morrow 2, Castillo, Alejandro Gonzalez.
Runs — Fortier 3, Janssen 3, Morrow 2, Perez 2, Ricardo Van Grieken 2, Tucker Ebest, Billy Rivera, Tachioka.
Indian Hills 2, Northeast 0
NECC 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
IHCC 000 020 x — 2 6 1
Northeast battery — Preston Tenny (L, 5-7) (IP, H, R, ER, K, BB, HBP), Samuel Manwarren catching.
2B — Tyler Monroe.
Hits — Monroe 1-2, Cade Lyman 1-2, Colin Lyman.
Indian Hills battery — Nick Marshall (W, 5-1) (6IP, 4H, 7K, BB, HBP) and Garciel Reyes Alvarado (S, 1) (IP, 3K, BB), Dave Janssen catching.
2B — C.J. Castillo, Tucker Ebest, Shane Morrow.
3B — Arturo Rodriguez.
Hits — Morrow 2-3, Ebest 1-2, Castillo 1-3, Janssen 1-3, Rodriguez 1-3.
RBI — Castillo.
Runs — Billy Rivera, Rodriguez.
Indian Hills 8, Northeast 6
NECC 300 000 003 — 6 9 2
IHCC 003 203 00x — 8 12 0
Northeast battery — Clay Beaumont (L, 2-1) (3 1/3IP, 5H, 5R, 4ER, 2K, 5BB, HBP), Keegan Thurston (1 2/3IP, 2H, K, 3BB), Dylan Rodgers (IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, K, 2HBP) and Brandon Nicks (2IP, 2H, 2K, BB), Samuel Manwarren catching.
2B — Colin Lyman, Tyler Monroe.
Hits — Co. Lyman 2-4, Monroe 2-5, Cade Lyman 1-3, Nick Carlson 1-4, Cooper Whit 1-4, Zane Zielinski 1-4, Manwarren 1-5.
RBI — Co. Lyman 2, Maximo DeLeon, Whit.
Runs — Parker Dorrance 2, Monroe 2, Ca. Lyman, Zielinski.
Indian Hills battery — Douglas Rojas (W, 5-0) (5 1/3IP, 3H, 4R, ER, 7K, 2BB, HBP), Dade Hensley (2 2/3IP, 2H, K, BB) and Gavin Hinkley (IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, K), Dave Janssen catching.
Hits — Billy Rivera 3-4, Shane Morrow 2-4, Noel Perez 2-4, Noah Butler 1-2, Tucker Ebest 1-2, Samuel Fortier 1-3, Janssen 1-3, C.J. Castillo 1-5.
RBI — Janssen 2, Castillo, Fortier, Morrow.
Runs — Rivera 2, Butler, Castillo, Ebest, Morrow, Perez, Arturo Rodriguez.