Hawks soar past Comets, 13-4
BEAMAN — The BCLUW baseball team was looking to go on its first three-game winning streak on Tuesday when it hosted South Hamilton, coming off back-to-back victories over Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall in NICL West Division play.
That third-straight victory would remain elusive though, as the Hawks walked into Rhodes Field and handed the Comets a 13-4 defeat, ending a six-game skid of their own.
The major issues were on the mound for BCLUW (6-7) as pitchers Ray Callaway, Jonny Neff and Jack Garber combined to give up 10 free bases, eight from walks and two from hit batters.
“We were hoping to come in sharp and throwing strikes and playing defense, but we walked and hit way too many guys,” Comets head coach Matt Zoske said. “We hit six guys from 6-7-8-9 in their order, and all that does is put guys on for their top. Their top could hit and their bottom couldn’t, but we weren’t throwing strikes at the bottom and that’s what hurt us.”
Of those six walks or hit batters in the bottom of the order, South Hamilton (4-7) plated four runs, most of which came off of hits by the top of the order.
Cleanup hitter CJ Hewitt did the most damage for the Hawks, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI while his courtesy runner Brandyn Feighner scored three times as well. Mateo Balderas, batting just behind Hewitt in the five hole, finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBIs, and a run scored for good measure.
Zoske said the inconsistency on the mound continued to allow South Hamilton to do damage, even when the ball was in the zone.
“When we did throw strikes we were throwing it all over the place,” he said. “Just kind of turned it into a snowball fight, just picking it up and chucking it wherever we chucked it. That makes for long nights for pitchers and it gets you out of your offensive flow.”
DJ Klonglan got the win on the mound for the Hawks, going five innings and allowing seven hits and four runs while striking out two and walking one. Cole Berg finished the final two innings allowing one hit and no runs while striking out three and walking one.
BCLUW’s top of the order wasn’t as affected by the slog on defense. Lead-off hitter Troy Dolphin finished 3-for-4 with a triple and a run and Brad Barkema in the No. 2 spot went 2-for-4 with two singles and two RBIs.
The rest of the team struggled at the plate, combining to finish 3-for-20 with no extra-base hits.
Zoske said even when the rest of the team is down, he knows he can rely on Barkema and Dolphin.
“They’ve been doing that not just this year, they’ve been doing it for several years and that’s why they are up there,” Zoske said of the senior duo. “Hopefully we get them on base and the guys behind them make things happen. We’ve been getting them on base all year, the difference now lately has been the guys behind them are starting to hit and hit well.”
Losing non-conference games but winning in NICL West play has been a bit of a theme for the Comets, as they are currently 4-1 in league play but 2-6 outside of the NICL West.
Zoske said that wasn’t necessarily the plan coming into this season, but his guys seem to bring their A game when playing against their divisional rivals.
“The big thing is the effort and the focus have really been there for all of our conference games,” he said. “We have guys laying out for balls and we’ve got guys being aggressive more so than what they have been in other games. I wish they would do that in all of the games, but it’s tough to put it together night after night and I guess if you have to have an off night a non-conference game would be the one to do it.”
The Comets will look to turn it back on starting tonight when they host Grundy Center, before heading to Gilman on Friday to face off with East Marshall.
South Hamilton 13, BCLUW 4
S.HAM 150 222 1 — 13 13 1
BCLUW 130 000 0 — 4 8 1
DJ Klonglan, Cole Berg (6) and Quinton Grove; Ray Callaway, Jonny Neff (2), Jack Garber (5) and Brad Barkema. WP–Klonglan. LP–Callaway. 2B–SH: CJ Hewitt 2, Marco Balderas (2). 3B–BCLUW: Troy Dolphin. HR–SH: Zeke Balderas. LOB–SH 7, BCLUW 6.