TRAER - Four North Tama baseball players are hitting .375 or better so far this season.
But Monday the Redhawks' plate discipline was more of a key during an 11-1 win over Colo-NESCO here at J.L. Lister Field in an Iowa Star Conference battle.
The Redhawks scored 11 runs on just six hits in the win but walked nine times and took advantage of four Royal errors to improve to 12-4 on the season.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
North Tama eighth-grader Cameron Hoeg makes a diving catch in right field during the Redhawks’ 11-1 win over Colo-NESCO in Iowa Star Conference play on Monday. The Redhawks are now 12-4 on the year.
"It is unusual to score 11 runs with just six hits, but if the pitchers aren't going to throw over the plate, we'll take our walks," North Tama coach Dan Kopriva said. "We'll be patient and be team players. We also like to run and put pressure on the defense."
Jacob Wrage threw four strong innings in the win and also had two of North Tama's six hits, walked twice, scored two runs and stole three bases.
"He is our leader on the field," Kopriva said of Wrage. "It's like having another coach on the field. He sees things I don't always see and lets me know. He is the ace on the mound and one of our best pure hitters along with Dalton Hulme."
The Redhawks (12-4 overall, 6-2 in Iowa Star) collected seven stolen bases on the night and took several other free bases on wild pitches and passed balls.
"We just, for whatever reason, did not come ready to play tonight," Colo-NESCO coach Brandon Kelley said. "The good thing about baseball is we get to redeem ourselves Wednesday night. It was disappointing that we weren't sharp."
Hulme began the Redhawks scoring with a two-run single in the first inning. It was the third straight hit to begin the frame for North Tama as Brent Billerbeck and Wrage had infield singles and then scored on Hulme's single.
The Royals committed back-to-back errors in the second inning and then Wrage walked. All three runners scored without a hit as North Tama pushed its lead to 5-1.
"They run the bases extremely well and put pressure on you," Kelley said. "They got a couple infield singles in that first inning, but we did a good job of getting out of it with just two runs against us. Then we start the second inning with two straight errors. We should have been out of the inning."
The Redhawks scored four more runs in the third inning off just one hit. Brandon Kaufman, Joe Kvidera and Billerbeck all drew walks and the lone hit was an RBI single down the first-base line from Wrage. Two more errors in the frame led to another unearned run.
"We struggled early in the season but I think we have a five or six-game winning streak right now," Kopriva said. "What we stress is our pitchers are going to walk less than the other team's pitchers. That is why we won tonight."
North Tama drew three more walks in the fifth inning and the game ended on Caden Stuart's RBI bloop single to centerfield.
"It should have been about 4-1 in the third inning, but North Tama took advantage of the mistakes," Kelley said. "They are a good team. And that is what good teams do.
"It was the first time we got the 10-run rule against us, and it was the first time we just weren't mentally into the game, which is disappointing being that it is our ninth game of the year."
Colo-NESCO (5-4, 3-1) scored its lone run in the first inning as J.T. Adams walked and scored following two fly ball outs to right field. Brandyn Niemeyer recorded the RBI sac fly and Tyler Guy had one of the Royals' three hits later in the inning.
Adam Lytle had the other two hits but the Royals stranded five runners in the game and could not get anything going against Wrage, who improved to 4-1 on the season. He struck out three and walked two in the victory.
Stuart struck out the side in the fifth inning for North Tama.
Niemeyer took the loss for Colo-NESCO after throwing the first two innings and surrendering five runs (three earned).
Niemeyer dropped to 2-3 after the loss on the mound. ... Stuart (.487), Hulme (.477) and Wrage (.431) all entered the game hitting better than .400, while Billerbeck came into the game batting .375. ... Wrage's earned run average before Monday's win was 1.29. ... Adams threw the final two-plus innings for the Royals and was on the bump when Stuart's walk-off hit ended the game.