Trojans trounce Comets, 20-5
West Marshall pulls even with BCLUW in NICL West Division standings
BEAMAN — Last time the West Marshall and BCLUW baseball teams met this season, the Comets walked away from State Center without allowing the Trojans a single hit.
West Marshall leadoff hitter Jake Tollefson wasn’t about to let that happen again when the two teams met up again on Wednesday night in an NICL West Division showdown, and after a long at-bat the Trojan junior got the better of BCLUW starting pitcher Logan Mann with a single to start the game.
That would be the first in a long line of hits for West Marshall in the game, as the Trojans exploded for easily their best offensive game of the season, defeating the Comets 20-5 in four innings.
West Marshall head coach Jerod Brown said the way Tollefson started the game really got the momentum rolling for his squad.
“Not just the fact that he got on base, it was his at-bat,” Brown said. “He got down early in the count, fought off four or five pretty tough pitches, took some pitches out of the zone. We didn’t play very well the other night against East Marshall, so getting somebody on first and scoring first goes a long ways in the game overall. That at-bat was crucial and set a tone for us all night.”
Tollefson finished the night with two hits and four RBIs, including a big two-RBI single in the fourth game that scored the 19th and 20th runs for his team.
Ryan Reyerson pitched the complete game for the Trojans (16-9, 7-2), allowing four hits and five runs while striking out four batters and walking two. Where Reyerson really did his damage was at the plate though, as he led the team by going 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs, and his courtesy runner Ben Kielman scored four runs.
“It felt really good being able to come out here and play our best game we could play,” Reyerson said after his second win of the year. “We hit very well today and it felt good as a pitcher having our team hitting like that and making plays for me all game.”
West Marshall finished the night with 11 total hits, including perfect plate appearances by Alex Dickey (2-for-2, two walks), and Josh Larson (1-for-1, one walk).
“I thought the biggest thing that we did well tonight is our approach was really, really good,” Brown said. “We stayed within the strikezone, we did not expand to the edges, and we got in good hitter’s counts. We took advantage and barreled up some balls. That’s something we’ve talked about a lot, our approach, and it’s improved a ton from the first week of the year and hopefully we can keep doing that.”
It also helped that BCLUW (10-10, 7-2) gave up 13 total free bases, eight by walks and five by hit batters. Brown said that also was a product of the team’s approach, however.
“We didn’t expand the zone and sometimes it’s as simple as the pitches you don’t swing at versus the pitches you do,” he said. “We did a really nice job there, we got guys on base, we ran the bases aggressively but we also ran them well, and we had some guys get some nice two-out hits.”
Comets head coach Matt Zoske said it’s difficult for any team to recover from allowing so many free bases, let alone against a team the quality of the Trojans.
“We had to stop the bleeding, but the bleeding wouldn’t stop,” Zoske said. “We wouldn’t throw strikes, we wouldn’t stop hitting them, we weren’t converting outs all night and that hurt.”
After starting the game down 7-0 through the first inning and a half, BCLUW responded in a big way with five runs in the bottom of the second to make it just a two-run contest. West Marshall jumped way out in front again to start the third by scoring seven runs in the top, thanks in part from seven walks or hit batters by Comet pitchers.
“That along with the errors, those really hurt and got us in a big hole, so we had to go for chunks,” Zoske said. “We got a chunk in the second, but you’re not going to get chunks against them every inning.”
On the other side, Brown said the way his guys came back after leaving the door open in the second was truly encouraging.
“We had a few freebies in that inning and we set them up for [Logan Mann] to deposit one in right center, but I was pleased with how we answered back in the next inning,” Brown said. “Once they made it 7-5 we came back with a seven-spot and that went a long ways to determine the outcome.”
Mann took the loss for the Comets while pitching the first two innings. Mann also had a bases-clearing double in the second that made it 7-5, while Troy Dolphin, Brad Barkema and Keegan Rhinehart all had singles in the second.
Reyerson said while going through that second inning he did his best to stay positive, which worked in the end since he retired six-straight batters to close out the game.
“I was just trying to focus on how I was pitching,” he said. “Tried to keep my mental game about me and not get flustered about anything.”
With the victory, the Trojans now pull even with the Comets atop the NICL West standings, with each team possessing a 7-2 divisional record. Brown said that is absolutely a confidence boost heading into the home stretch of the season.
“It was something we haven’t talked about, we didn’t talk about it at all coming in, but I think it’s one of those things that they all knew,” Brown said of the NICL West standings. “Confidence-wise, even more than any standings or anything like that, it was how we played and the energy we played with was much better than we played with the other night against East Marshall, so we were really pleased with that.”
As for the Comets, Zoske said this wasn’t their best showing but luckily they still have plenty of time to get back on track and finish the season strong.
“Just like anything, we have to emphasize defense, throw strikes and hit the ball,” he said. “We are out of conference tomorrow so hopefully we can get some of that stuff figured out before we go back into conference.”
BCLUW hosts Colo-NESCO tonight for an NICL-Iowa Star meeting, while West Marshall heads up to Grundy Center to finish a game that was postponed earlier this season due to weather conditions.
West Marshall 20, BCLUW 5
W. Marshall 347 6 — 20 11 0
BCLUW 050 0 — 5 4 2
Ryan Reyerson and Josh Larson; Logan Mann, Koty Kruse (3), Jack Garber (4) and Brad Barkema. WP–Reyerson (2-0). LP–Mann (3-3). 2B–WM: Reyerson, Parker Hulbert, Cameron Bannister, Kinnick Christensen; BCLUW: Mann. LOB–WM 4, BCLUW 1.