MASON CITY - The Marshalltown baseball team ended its season-high three-game losing streak but couldn't prolong its winning ways, splitting Monday's Central Iowa Conference Northern Division doubleheader at Mason City.
"We're pleased to win game one, but very disappointed we couldn't complete the sweep," said MHS coach Steve Hanson.
The Bobcats (15-17, 6-4) scored three times in the top of the seventh inning in game one, breaking a 3-all tie thanks to three hits and a sacrifice fly. Winning pitcher Blake Judkins led off with a single and Mason McCarville followed with a double. Michael Schrempf's sacrifice fly plated Judkins as the go-ahead run, and McCarville beat the throw home on Dylan Diveney's grounder to second.
Diveney promptly stole second and scored on Colten Hanke's single to right, making it a 6-3 Bobcat lead.
Judkins (4-4) made the lead stick despite hitting Mason City's leadoff batter in the bottom of the seventh. Brock Thompson took second on a wild pitch but was gunned down trying to take third on a ball back to the mound. A strikeout and a groundout ended the game.
MHS leadoff batter Ryan Mitchell went 3-for-5 with a run scored, while McCarville, Schrempf and Austin Sowers each had two of the Bobcats' 13 hits. Grant Thimesch, Hunter Hillygus, Judkins and Hanke each contributed singles.
On the mound, Judkins allowed five hits and three earned runs for the win. He struck out six, walked none but hit four batters.
Matt Schneider (3-5) took the loss, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing six earned runs. He walked one, hit one batter and had no strikeouts. Austin Hemmen had two of the Mohawks' five hits, including a double.
"We did some nice things offensively late in game one, and we had several chances to score more runs and open things up a little but we couldn't capitalize," said Hanson.
In the nightcap, Marshalltown scored four times in the third inning to double up the Mohawks, 4-2, but Mason City (12-15, 3-6) utilized its own three-run outburst to take the lead for good.
Trailing 2-0 in the third, the Bobcats got back-to-back singles from Devan Mann and Diveney. Mitchell's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, and Thimesch singled to score the first run. A double steal allowed Diveney to come across before Hillygus singled to left, plating Thimesch for a 3-2 lead.
One out later, Hillygus stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on McCarville's single to center. Hanke followed with Marshalltown's sixth hit of the inning, but McCarville was caught trying to advance to third.
Hanke was unable to hold the Mohawks down, however, as they chased him from the bump in the bottom of the fourth. A combination of hits, walks, hit batsmen, sacrifice flies and an error got Mason City in front for good.
Collin Platts retired the Bobcats in order in the fifth and sixth, but Mann started the seventh with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt by Sowers got Mann into scoring position, Platts got a pair of flyouts to end the game.
"Game two came down to one bad inning once we had taken the lead in which we couldn't make plays on defense and lost track of the strike zone," said Hanson. "As I told our guys - bad innings in July typically end seasons. Hopefully we'll learn and improve from the experience as we're bound to be in close games the rest of the way.
"Our guys need to understand that effort and hustle are unconditional. The last few days we've let bad at-bats affect our effort - something that good players don't allow to happen."
Hanke (3-4) allowed seven hits, a walk and a hit batter over 3 1/3 innings for the loss. Tyler Moranville pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit.
Platts (3-3) struck out two, walked none, hit one and allowed four earned runs on nine hits for the win. Stone Sturges and Matt Meyer both had two hits for the Mohawks.
Thimesch, McCarville and Mann led MHS at the plate with two hits apiece.
The Bobcats are back home on Wednesday night with a twinbill against former CIML Iowa Conference foe Waukee. Marshalltown's final home game will be Friday against Class 4A No. 5 Des Moines East.