Bobcats can’t catch Comets
North Polk’s Jake Johnson holds Marshalltown to one hit in 2-0 shutout
The Bobcats failed to pounce on what limited opportunities they encountered, and the Comets cashed in for the win.
North Polk junior right-hander Jake Johnson held the Marshalltown baseball team to one second-inning single, and the Comets danced around two errors to take out the Bobcats, 2-0, in Friday’s non-conference contest at the MHS diamond.
Johnson (4-0) struck out three, walked none, and started 16 of the 24 batters he faced with a strike. His fastball moved about the strike zone and his defense made enough plays behind him when it counted to hold the Bobcats (9-13) scoreless for the ninth time this summer and the fifth time in their last six outings.
Designated hitter Dru Dobbins led off the bottom of the second inning with a single through the middle and advanced as far as third before Johnson escaped unscathed. Sam Irwin started the fifth by reaching on an error and stole second base but was stranded there, and the Bobcats’ last and best scoring chance arrived in the home half of the sixth. Dylan Eygabroad got on via an error, and he stole second with leadoff batter Nate Vance at the plate. But Vance popped out in foul territory, Tate Kuehner’s bunt was caught by a hard-charging first baseman, and Eygabroad was picked off second before Jordan Smiley had a chance to drive him home.
Marshalltown had just three runners on base, leaving two stranded in scoring position, and North Polk (12-4) picked up a win in the series for the first time since 2013.
“We’ve been on the other end of that too where we haven’t been capable of keeping games close, so for us I guess it was good to play a close one,” said MHS head coach Steve Hanson, “but we’re not real pleased with the result.
“We haven’t hit it and we had one base hit and they made two errors and that was it. So it’s pretty lonely. We don’t have many opportunities, so when you have one you can’t squander it as we did in the sixth inning. … We had one hit and three baserunners, so that’s a big, big deal, and that blew up a great opportunity and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
North Polk managed a mere seven hits against Marshalltown’s pitchers — Kuehner and Wade Canaday — but five of them went for doubles. The Comets got a pair of second-inning doubles from Jeff Lamp and Mason Russell to account for their first run, and back-to-back two-out doubles by Anthony Capaldo and Colby Cupp closed North Polk’s scoring in the fifth.
Kuehner (2-2) struck out four, walked one and allowed two runs on five hits, while Canaday surrendered two hits and struck out one.
“Their kid pitched better than ours, their team swung it better than ours, we played better defense than them but that didn’t change the outcome any tonight,” said Hanson. “[Johnson] didn’t walk anybody so I didn’t find a flaw in any of the innings. He threw strike one, he kept us off-balance a little bit, but primarily he’s a fastball guy and it’s not an overpowering fastball, but he moved it around and we did nothing so give him a lot of credit.”
Johnson also had one of two North Polk singles. Lamp finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored, and Capaldo was 2-for-3 with a double and a run.
Marshalltown has the weekend off before playing eight games in six days next week, including home doubleheaders Monday against Fort Dodge and Wednesday with Mason City. The Bobcats swept both teams on the road earlier this season, but they don’t expect to do it again if they don’t score any runs.
“If we play well we can match up, and if we don’t play well we won’t match up,” said Hanson. “That’s kind of been the story of our existence here for the first month of the season. If we don’t pitch it well and consequently give up too many opportunities, we’re not going to score 15 runs so we have to be really efficient with what we do offensively and then we have to make that hold up — and that’s a lot easier said than done.
“We’ll have our hands full, and if we don’t swing it any better than [tonight], if you give up a run, that might be too many. It’s a really fine line that we have to manage right now and it’s a difficult thing to do.”
North Polk 2, Marshalltown 0
North Polk 010 010 0 — 2 7 2
MHS 000 000 0 — 0 1 0
Jake Johnson and Matthew Antle; Tate Kuehner, Wade Canaday (6) and Miguel Torrez. W–Johnson (4-0). L–Kuehner (2-2). 2B–NP: Jeff Lamp 2, Colby Cupp, Mason Russell, Anthony Capaldo. LOB–NP 4, MHS 2.