Marshalltown coach Steve Hanson said his Bobcat baseball team knows if they play well, they can win plenty of games.
Playing well of late has pushed the Bobcats' record past .500 for the first time this season as Marshalltown earned a pair of 5-0 wins in a doubleheader sweep of Des Moines North at the MHS diamond on Friday.
"The most encouraging thing about tonight was we threw zeroes at them," Hanson said. "Our guys are smart enough to know that if we play well we can win and if we don't play well we'll probably lose."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS sophomore Grant Thimesch, right, beats the throw to home and slides through Des Moines North catcher Bobby Dalton at the MHS diamond Friday during a doubleheader sweep of of the Polar Bears. The Bobcats won a pair of 5-0 decisions and improved to 5-4 on the year.
It was the third straight win for the Bobcats, who improved to 5-4 on the season. Des Moines North began the season 0-7, dropped its fifth straight Friday and is now just 1-12 on the year.
"We treat all of our games the same and there might be some stretches where you struggle," Hanson said. "That is just how baseball works. We played well defensively and pitched well tonight and when you can get those two components going, you have a chance."
We played well defensively and pitched well tonight and when you can get those two components going, you have a chance."
A pair of seniors started on the mound for the Bobcats and each walked away with victories. Tyler Moranville, who had an RBI sacrifice fly at the plate, threw the first five innings of game one, allowed two hits and walked one while striking out four.
Hunter Hillygus then followed that up with four innings in the nightcap. He allowed just two hits and one walk while fanning four.
"Tyler and Hunter did a nice job of getting us into the game," Hanson said. "That takes a lot of pressure off and then we can pick and choose how we want to attack those other innings. We were able to get some guys some work. It all worked out from a pitcher's standpoint."
Connor Ruddick and Ryan Mitchell each threw a scoreless inning of relief in the opener and then Mitchell teamed up with Blake Judkins and Dylan Diveney to keep the shut out in the second game. The bullpen combined to surrender just one hit and struck out three in the nightcap.
The first inning was kind to the Bobcats in both games as the top of the order took care of business by getting early leads on the scoreboard.
Mitchell walked, singled and scored twice, while Grant Thimesch had two bunt singles and was plated once in the first game. Judkins, Hillygus and Moranville all collected RBIs.
"It's always important to put pressure on the defense," said Judkins, who had three hits and two runs in the doubleheader sweep. "Mitchell did a nice job of getting on and Thimesch handled the bat excellent. Getting the guy to third with less than two outs is important. It allows the middle of our lineup to drive the runner in and that's important in the overall success of the game."
The Polar Bears were tagged with six errors total in both games. The first error came in the first inning of game one as two runs crossed on the miscue.
The other three runs hit homeplate in the third inning. Mitchell singled and stole second and then Thimesch reached first on a bunt single - which was almost exactly how the first inning started. Judkins' RBI single plated Mitchell, Moranville's sac fly sent Thimesch home and Hillygus' RBI double brought in Judkins to make it 5-0.
"The top of your order is crucial for any team," Hanson said. "Those guys need to be productive. Mitchell is very key for us. He is a table setter and we were able to move him around. He got on and then we were able to move him over and get him in. That has to be the way we play."
The top of the order remained productive in the second game but a two-run homer from Mason McCarville highlighted the win. It came in the third inning after a single from Dylan Diveney and pushed the lead to 3-0.
"He has struggled in the first couple weeks of the season so maybe that's a sign he is getting things figured out," Hanson said.
Mitchell doubled to begin game two and came around to score on Judkins' RBI single. The final two runs of the game were unearned against Polar Bear starter Kalob Russell. A fielding error with two outs plated Moranville and Judkins, who both reached with singles.
Three errors in each game plagued the Polar Bears. The Bobcats, on the other hand, only had one error in each game and made some nice plays in the field to preserve the two shut outs.
"The defense is the main key," Judkins said. "If you can't hold your opponents to a couple of runs then it puts all the pressure on the offense."
The Bobcats will try to extend their winning streak to five games Monday when they travel to Ames for a doubleheader. ... MHS had seven hits in each game Friday. ... North's only win this season came in a doubleheader split against Oskaloosa. The Polar Bears came into the game hitting just .185 and holding down an earned run average of 15.24 on the mound. ... Judkins' three hits added to his team-best .367 batting average. He also has a team-high eight RBIs. ... The Bobcats recorded two outs by way of trickery on the bases and both times it came against Russell. Russell singled in the first inning but was later tagged out by Hillygus after the Bobcats set up a fake throw to first. First baseman Matt Battles acted like the ball was thrown past him and when Russell took off for second, Hillygus ran him down and applied the tag. A similar play occurred in the seventh after Russell doubled. This time, Diveney applied the tag following the fake throw to Thimesch. ... Everyone on the roster played for the Bobcats in the sweep. That was something Hanson had been wanting to do for awhile. "Our plan was to get guys in tonight," said Hanson. "We haven't had a chance to see some of our guys because of the poor weather. We are still trying to sort some things out with our lineup. In order to do that, we need to see the guys play. And everyone got in tonight, which is good."