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’Cats capitalize where Cardinals can’t

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown junior Bennett Hageman, right, slides safely into home plate while scoring all the way from second base on a wild pitch by Newton’s Benjamin Leal (27) during the fifth inning of Friday’s home opener for the Bobcats. MHS prevailed 7-2.

The Bobcats were out to take advantage of all the breaks they couldn’t make for themselves a night earlier.

The Marshalltown baseball team put in overtime to simply get its field playable in spite of the morning’s downpour, then finished the job in the form of a 7-2 victory over Newton in Friday’s home opener.

Bobcat senior Dylan Eygabroad needed just 67 pitches to go all seven innings on the mound, retiring the last eight batters he faced to help Marshalltown (1-2) rebound from Thursday’s bumpy doubleheader at Des Moines Roosevelt. Less than 24 hours after suffering 4-2 and 2-0 losses to the Roughriders, MHS made good on its next opportunity to play better baseball and collect its first win of the season.

Eygabroad put his defense to work behind him, getting only one seventh-inning strikeout while walking none and plunking two batters in an efficient and timely outing for Marshalltown.

“It’s a really important one for us because of where we were with our pitching right now,” said MHS head coach Steve Hanson, who utilized what he expects to be his best four pitchers in Thursday’s doubleheader defeats, restricting three of them from appearing in Friday’s make-up game. “The player of the day certainly is Dylan Eygabroad, and not because of exactly how he did but because of when he did it. We have a lot of untested guys right now, but he was a senior guy who took the ball and went out and did well.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANNE VANCE - Marshalltown sophomore Tyler Dunham, right, is tagged out by Newton catcher Ty Arguello on a play at the plate in the second inning of Friday’s high school baseball game at the MHS diamond.

Eygabroad, in his second career start and first pitching appearance of any kind since 2017, threw a four-hitter while inducing 11 groundouts against six flyouts. Newton (0-2) managed to accumulate three of its four hits in the same inning, however, and erased Marshalltown’s early 2-0 lead when Kael Swarts lifted a two-out, two-run double to left-center field in the top of the fourth.

Eygabroad picked off Swarts to end the at-bat and keep the score tied, and he picked Frank Cataldo off first base to start the fifth inning after plunking him. Eygabroad and the defense behind him finished off the next eight Cardinals to come up to bat, capping the first win of the year for the ‘Cats.

“Tyler Dunham did a nice job at shortstop having his first varsity competition and he got to go play and make a couple plays, so it worked out and it worked out really well,” Hanson said. “It’s a lot easier game when you throw strike one, and we didn’t do a very good job of that last night and pitch counts escalated.”

Eygabroad threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 24 batters he faced, only once throwing more than five pitches to any single Newton hitter, and only once allowed the leadoff batter in an inning to reach base (Cataldo HBP).

One night after totaling six hits against Roosevelt’s capable pitchers, the Bobcats amassed six hits to go with seven walks and two hit batsmen issued by Newton pitching. Four of the nine free baserunners eventually scored.

T-R PHOTO BY ANNE VANCE

Leadoff walks to Tate Kuehner in the bottom of the first inning and Eygabroad in the third led to runs for Marshalltown. Kuehner moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Eygabroad and scored on Wade Canaday’s single, and in the third Eygabroad walked, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on Joseph Harris’ sacrifice fly to center field.

Carson Williams doubled to lead off the second in his first varsity at-bat, but baserunning issues caught up to the ‘Cats in that frame.

Newton starter Ryan Barr beaned MHS junior Will Van Buren right in the head to lead off the fourth, an inning Barr wouldn’t get the opportunity to finish after he allowed a single to Williams and walks to Blake Trowbridge, Eygabroad, Canaday and Harris. The last three free passes forced in runs, all with two out, to help the Bobcats break a 2-all tie for a 5-2 lead.

Barr took the loss, allowing five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on four hits, six walks and two hit batsmen. He struck out one.

Pinch-hitter Bennett Hageman singled to lead off the seventh against Cardinals reliever Benjamin Leal, took second on a wild pitch and then scored all the way from second on another wild pitch. Kuehner walked and later scored on another Canaday single to add some insurance that Eygabroad wouldn’t need.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“Well it was certainly an improvement,” Hanson said of Marshalltown’s offense. “Some of that has to do with the first game out … the guy who beat us is an Iowa commit, so that was just a tough matchup for us. We didn’t play terribly but we didn’t play clean.

“Much better tonight and had obviously more baserunners and did some things whith them tonight, but if you’re looking for a key it was Eygabroad throwing strike one. He hit two guys, which is two too many, but the defense was crisp and he only struck out one guy. I feel much better about the defense, which wasn’t great last night.”

Canaday led the Bobcat bats, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Williams was 2-for-3 with a double. Trowbridge and his pinch-hitter Hageman accounted for the only other hits for MHS.

Marshalltown had to go on the offense just to get the field ready to make up Tuesday’s previously scheduled season-opener against Newton after the morning’s downpour washed out the second round of the Iowa High School Boys State Golf Tournament about a mile to the west at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course.

“At 9 o’clock this morning there was a 3 percent chance we could play,” said Hanson, “but without the efforts of our senior guys — who as soon as they got out of school got down here and started bailing water, literally — it wouldn’t have gotten played. Hundreds of gallons of water got bailed, (Marshalltown Little League president) Tim Kuehner devoted his time and helped clean things up as well as our assistant coaches Cole Keeler, Colton Hanke and Spencer Gritsch, and without those efforts we would have had no chance.

“You can see it’s not great, but it’s good enough,” Hanson added.

In anticipation of more wet weather, Marshalltown has moved Monday’s annual Memorial Day game against Cedar Rapids Kennedy to a 3:30/5:30 p.m. JV/varsity start. If rain seems inevitable, the Bobcats may play the varsity game first, just as they did for Friday’s home opener.

Marshalltown 7, Newton 2

At Marshalltown

NEWTON 000 200 0 — 2 4 2

MHS 101 302 X — 7 6 0

Ryan Barr, Benjamin Leal (4) and Ty Arguello; Dylan Eygabroad and Will Van Buren. W–Eygabroad (1-0). L–Barr (0-1). 2B–NWT: Clay Meyer, Kael Swarts; MHS: Carson Williams. LOB–NWT 1, MHS 7.