Marshalltown baseball team’s comeback falls short against North Polk, 4-3

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown senior third baseman Wade Canaday, left, awaits the umpire’s call after North Polk’s Ryan Fausch slid in safely during the top of the second inning of Friday’s baseball game at the MHS diamond. North Polk defeated the host Bobcats 4-3.

The Marshalltown baseball program took the time to honor the 10-year anniversary of back-to-back Bobcat teams that advanced to the state tournament, reliving the stories of comeback wins against Waterloo West, Mason City and Burlington among others as MHS traveled the postseason trail all the way to Principal Park in consecutive summers.

The ‘clutch gene’ those Bobcats had might have come in handy on Friday night against North Polk.

The Comets jumped out to a 4-0 lead and withstood the three runs they helped Marshalltown attain and the ones the Bobcats couldn’t earn themselves, holding on for a 4-3 victory in the seventh year of the annual series.

Marshalltown (9-8) suffered its fourth-straight loss and fifth in six games this week, missing out on the opportunity to post the thrilling, come-from-behind victory that became commonplace for the the 2008 and 2009 Bobcats.

“Did I think we played with a lot of heart and enthusiasm tonight? No,” said MHS head coach Steve Hanson. “That’s a tough one, too, to try to manipulate and change in the lives of 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds. What trips their trigger? What gets them jacked up? I don’t know. I’m at a loss right now, but that’s our job and we’re going to continue to try and work at it and find it.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown junior Will Van Buren deposits a double over the left fielder’s head during the third inning of Friday’s baseball game at the MHS diamond.

“You can’t be a great team without that component and we still strive to be a great team when it matters, and right now we’re not.”

Marshalltown batted 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Friday’s loss to North Polk (9-4), unable to connect in the clutch moments that coincide with falling behind. The visiting Comets climbed to within 4-3 in the annual series with Marshalltown on the strength of a run in the top of the first inning and three more in the second.

The 4-0 lead was just enough for Comet left-hander Colten Parkins, who overcame three errors and three unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning to get the win. Parkins struck out seven and walked one in his six innings, but gave way to Cam Brunkow after pitch count rules came into play in the bottom of the seventh.

Blake Trowbridge chased Parkins with a single through the left side of the infield, and Will Van Buren reached on another North Polk error one out later. Brunkow then plunked Wade Canaday to load the bases, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a flyout to finish off the win.

“The one thing we were able to do was extend [Parkins’] pitch count a little bit and he ran out of pitches … so that was good for us to get him out of the game,” said Hanson. “He’s a nice player. He’s not Sandy Koufax, however. We have seen and we will see comparable guys, better guys in the CIML so a little disappointed we were only able to score three runs and certainly the last inning we were way too passive and unable to move the ball when it really mattered and that’s how you get beat.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

The Bobcats stranded nine baserunners in all, getting just five hits against Parkins and none of Brunkow in their last gasp.

Marshalltown’s three runs all came unearned to Parkins (2-1), starting in the third inning when Tate Kuehner went all the way to second on an errant throw to first. He took third on another wild throw after North Polk tried to double him off at second on Trowbridge’s lineout to third, and scored on Dylan Eygabroad’s sacrifice fly to left.

Van Buren and Canaday belted back-to-back two-out doubles, Joseph Harris walked and Carson Williams reached on an error that allowed Canaday to score to make it 4-3. Dru Dobbins’ big fly ball to center field was caught for the final out, preventing further damage.

“We were probably fortunate they kicked the ball around a little bit, that’s the only way we got any offense going ourselves,” Hanson said. “It was kind of a ragged, ugly game that we’re going to look back at in July and say, ‘man, we let that one get away.’ We had a chance to win that and should have and didn’t.”

Harris took the loss for his four innings as Marshalltown’s starting pitcher, allowing five hits and four runs — three earned — with one walk and seven strikeouts. North Polk capitalized on a single and an error to score its first run, and back-to-back two-out singles by Ryan Fausch and Joe Husak drove in three runs in the second for the Comets.

Canaday pitched the final three frames, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out four.

Canaday also had two of Marshalltown’s five hits, scoring once and drive in a run.

The Bobcats have another big week of games on the schedule ahead of them starting with Monday’s twinbill against Mason City, Wednesday’s doubleheader against Waukee and Thursday’s games against Des Moines Hoover. All of them are home games.

“On Tuesday we get to practice, we might work on defense, bunting the ball, communication and generally just hustle,” Hanson said. “North Polk outhustled us, they outperformed us in many areas and if you allow that to occur with a good left-handed pitcher on the mound you’re going to get beat.

“Most teams we play are probably better than us so we have to be really good and we have to execute some things that other teams don’t and we haven’t been able to do that this week except for once at Fort Dodge, and that was with Canaday on the mound.”

The Bobcats close out next week’s schedule with a doubleheader at top-ranked Johnston next Friday night.

North Polk 4, Marshalltown 3

At Marshalltown

N. POLK 130 000 0 — 4 6 5

MHS 003 000 0 — 3 5 3

Colten Parkins, Cam Brunkow (7) and Joe Husak; Joseph Harris, Wade Canaday (5) and Will Van Buren. W–Parkins (2-1). L–Harris (1-1). Sv–Brunkow (1). 2B–MHS: Canaday, Van Buren. 3B–NP: Jeff Lamp. LOB–NP 4, MHS 8.