From sweep to split
Tigers turn tides on S’western with Game 1 win
The shadows grew longer as time ticked away on the chance for the Tigers’ first two-game sweep since April 1. But the latter match didn’t fall Marshalltown Community College’s way, as the Tiger baseball team split the afternoon with Southwestern Community College taking game one 8-6, but falling in the second 6-2.
The sunny Saturday afternoon showcased bright areas for the Tigers (16-23, 5-9 ICCAC), a team that snapped an 11-game skid on Thursday (16-11 vs. Ellsworth CC).
“The good thing about it is, when we were in our slump there the last two weeks, we weren’t even splitting,” said Marshalltown CC head coach Rich Grife. “We were not getting two games in a row. At least now, we split one with a chance to hopefully get two [today] and put ourselves in better position. We’ll stay in that [third position in conference play] for now, with a better chance to move up.”
While power was the answer in the win against Ellsworth CC, patience was the necessary response in game one, a contest that allowed the Tigers to tally six hits but remain intentional and productive in their eight runs scored.
As a team, the Marshalltown CC men were 8-for-13 with runners in scoring position (RISP). The first inning started off slow, but again, the Tigers were patient and Luis Duran, Diogen Ceballos and Enmanuel Lopez all drew three consecutive walks to load the bases. An error by SWCC shortstop Pedro Nazario allowed Duran to score, and a single by Carter Eldridge scored Ceballos. Lopez tried scoring from second but was thrown out at the plate.
The first inning epitomized what the Tigers would go on to do the rest of the game. Overall, they walked six times on three different SWCC (14-28, 2-12 ICCAC) pitchers, forcing two pitching changes in the bottom of the sixth. Ceballos walked twice himself and Duran had a solid 3-for-3 first contest with a walk, a double and two singles.
But the tides churned when the Spartan pitching staff turned over. Oscar Rivera tossed five and 2/3s innings, giving up five hits but just one earned run, while walking four and striking out five. Grife said the second pitcher provided a completely different set of pitches the Tigers couldn’t fully get a grasp on.
“It really was the pitcher [who made a difference in game two],” Grife said. “He made us hit a lot more balls in the air. When we put more line drives on the ground, that plays in our favor.”
The Tigers’ Juan Carlos Gonzalez made it through 5 2/3 innings in game one, giving up seven hits, six earned runs and striking out eight batters. Brett Braida came in for the win, getting through just 1/3 inning, allowing no walks or hits. Lopez nabbed the save, his fifth of the year, in one inning with a strikeout and two walks.
Game two proved to be more challenging, seeing JJ Stephens make it just three innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs. Braida relieved Stephens in the fourth and went the rest of the way.
The offensive production halted for Marshalltown CC, as it scored just 2-for-10 with RISP. The Spartans were much more productive, going 6-for-10 with RISP.
Grife said splitting with SWCC yesterday was still a pivotal moment in the season for a team that struggled through April. Going from swept to split could be the step the Tigers need to go from split to sweep.
“It’s not from a lack of effort. This group is a fantastic group,” Grife said of the Tigers and their slump. “Things just aren’t going our way and we’re really banged up. A lot of guys hurt and we’ve just got to hang in there and hopefully we get healthy before the end of the year.”
The ultimate goal is being healthy and playing their best ball come tournament time. With an 11-game skid in April now behind the Tigers, they are focusing on the end result.
“I worry a little bit about everything, but yes, the big goal is getting everything in line for the tournament,” Grife said. “We also want to have a little momentum going into it, too. These guys know how to win. Most of that group from last year are back, we’ve just got to get the tools back to do it.”
Marshalltown CC will wrap up its conference weekend with SWCC with today’s doubleheader beginning at noon.
Marshalltown CC 8, Southwestern CC 6
SWCC 110 013 0 — 6 10 1
MCC 230 102 X — 8 8 2
Rauvardo Torres, Dylan Torres (6), Sean Houston (6) and Gabriel Leon; Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Braida (6), Enmanuel Lopez (7) and Carter Eldridge. WP–Braida (1-0). LP–R. Torres (2-8). SV–Lopez (5). 2B–SWCC: Pedro Nazario. MCC: Marving Serrano, Luis Duran. HR–SWCC: Angel Morales. LOB–SWCC 7, MCC 9.
Southwestern CC 6, Marshalltown CC 2
SWCC 002 400 0 — 6 9 1
MCC 000 010 1 — 2 6 2
Oscar Rivera, Elijah Johnson (6) and Jared Heman; JJ Stephens, Brett Braida (4) and Tony Salato. WP–Rivera (2-2). LP–Stephens (1-4). 2B–MCC: Marving Serrano, Salato, Kaleb Hanks. LOB–SWCC 8, MCC 9.