Tigers split with Spartans for first home win

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College outfielder Joseph Monosmith (7) stretches for home plate while Southwestern catcher Nathan Torres attempts to secure the ball during the second game of the doubleheader between the Tigers and Spartans on Saturday. MCC won the first game 5-3 while Southwestern took the second 21-8.

It had been over a week since the last time the Marshalltown Community College baseball team had hit the diamond due to weather cancellations, but it finally got out for a doubleheader on Friday against Southwestern Community College.

These were important games to play too, as the Tigers and Spartans faced off in each team’s first Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division I games of the year. As it happens each team would experience both their first ICCAC win and loss of the season, as MCC (3-13, 1-1) won the first game 5-3 and Southwestern (8-15, 1-1) took the second in a high-scoring 21-8 affair.

Marshalltown head coach Kim Johnson said his guys really needed to do everything in their power to try and come away with two wins on the day.

“At home, I don’t care if the score would have been 1-0, with our conference as tough as it is you really need to sweep at home,” he said. “We didn’t get it done today, we had a good start but didn’t even come close to finishing the day. I’m not a real happy camper now, there are some things that have to be cleaned up and we will clean it up.”

There was an inauspicious start to game one, as Tigers starting pitcher Walter Hernandez found himself in a jam in the top of the first inning. After walking the first batter he faced in the game and surrendering a double next, Hernandez gave up a three-run home run to Stephan Soto, putting the Tigers down 3-0 before an out had even been recorded.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College short stop Jose Mieses (3) crosses the plate in the third inning for the first score of the first game for the Tigers against Southwestern on Friday. MCC would score three more runs and take the lead for good in the third, winning their first home game of the season 5-3 over the Spartans.

“We made some mistakes getting down 3-0, we came out and walked the first kid and weren’t even competitive going at him, then the next kid comes up and he hits a double and we missed a sign that was supposed to be a pickoff, the pitch wasn’t even supposed to be thrown,” Johnson said. “So they’ve got runners on second and third and the next kid comes up and pops one out, they do hit home runs and I knew that coming in.”

It didn’t take long for Hernandez to figure things out after that home run, however, as he retired three of the next four batters to get out of the first without any further damage. He would continue that work throughout the rest of the game, allowing only four more hits while throwing six scoreless innings to close out the game on the mound.

After the game, Hernandez said he had a conversation with pitching coach Joe Goodman after the home run and that talk helped him calm down.

“I missed a signal on that pitch, and then coach came up to talk to me and we took advantage of every at bat and every pitch,” Hernandez said with teammate Christopher Lopez translating. “Then from there on we started throwing zeroes.”

Johnson said Hernandez’s ability to let bad results slide off him and continue working and listening to coach is the mark of a good player.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“The defense behind him didn’t shut down, we got some things going and got back in the game and Walter kind of settled down and was Walter,” he said. “He pitched well, it was a good team game, we hung on in a tight game. We were up 4-3 then extended the lead to two, which is a big mental thing and what we hadn’t been doing. So that’s a positive right there.”

Things truly turned around in the third inning when the Tigers plated four and took the lead for good. Eight total batters got a shot in the inning, with Jose Mieses kicking things off with a double followed by Marving Serrano, Luke Woodward, Elijah Bergeron and Brodie Paulson all reaching base in succession.

The offense was still rolling in game two, as MCC scored at least one run in each of the five innings, but it was on the mound that the Tigers started to struggle.

Duncan Snider got the start for Marshalltown and went a full two innings before being pulled after giving up eight runs, four of them earned, and seven hits. Five more pitchers would come in for relief, none of them going more than two-thirds of an inning, as the Tigers gave up 16 hits leading to 21 Spartan runs.

“We beat ourselves on the mound. They scored every inning and we scored every inning, but we couldn’t get the third out before they scored good numbers,” Johnson said. “A lot of that was our fault, we gave up too many free bases with wild pitches and passed balls. We had a couples of errors thrown in there and it kind of snowballed.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

To Johnson’s point, MCC had five wild pitches, six passed balls and eight walks in the loss. Southwestern took advantage of that with eight total extra-base hits, including two home runs.

There was a point in the fourth inning where it seemed the Tigers would climb back in, as they cut a 13-3 Spartan lead down to only six with a four-run inning. Once Southwestern got back into the action offensively, however, they took all that hope away, scoring eight runs in the top of the fifth to effectively put the game out of reach.

“When we got back in the game we just changed pitchers and we got some guys on pitch counts still even though it’s been 10 days since we’ve been on the field, so we just didn’t have that shutdown inning and that just snowballed,” Johnson said. “From a realistic standpoint that kind of put it out of reach for us, but we have to take that and learn from it.”

Though they had a good amount of time without a game, the Tigers still weren’t able to get out and practice on the field due to weather, something Johnson said is still hindering their development.

“The pitching staff, especially when we get deep in the pitching staff, we are still developing guys because we are not overly deep on the mound,” he said. “Our offense can play with anybody, our defense can play with about anybody, we just have to be better on the mound.”

Marshalltown and Southwestern will continue this weekend series on Monday with another doubleheader at Shawn Williams Field, starting at 1 p.m.

At Marshalltown

Game 1

Marshalltown CC 5, Southwestern CC 3

SWCC 300 000 0 — 3 5 1

MCC 004 100 X — 6 5 1

Oscar Rivera and Nathan Torres; Walter Hernandez and Carter Eldridge. WP–Hernandez. LP–Rivera. 2B–SWCC: Pedro Nazario; MCC: Jose Mieses, Elijah Bergerson. HR–SWCC: Stephan Soto (2). LOB–SWCC 4, MCC 5.

Game 2

Southwestern CC 21, Marshalltown CC 8, 5 innings

SWCC 226 38 — 21 16 3

MCC 111 41 — 8 10 3

Ronnie Wiggington, Daniel Hundley and Nathan Torres; Duncan Snider, Greg Glass, David Davila, Garrett Greiner, Diego Almonte, Pedro Ballester Lamberty and Joel Torrealba. WP–Wiggington. LP–Snider. 2B–SWCC: Raul Cosme 2, Jose Mendez, Quentin Sefrit, Nazario; MCC: Luke Woodward. 3B–SWCC: Nazario. HR–SWCC: Nazario (4), Vincent Ramos (2). LOB–SWCC 4, MCC 9.