Bobcat bats deliver split with No. 10 Mason City

Tate Kuehner

MASON CITY — The Bobcats that hit are the Bobcats that win.

The Marshalltown baseball team improved to 14-2 in games in which it scores at least five runs when it beat Class 4A No. 10 Mason City in Wednesday’s CIML Iowa Conference opener, but then suffered its fourth shutout loss of the summer in the nightcap.

Tate Kuehner tossed 6 2/3 strong innings and had two of the Bobcats’ 10 hits in the first game, an 8-3 victory, before Mason City’s Derek Dalen twirled a five-hit shutout in a 10-0, six-inning Mohawk victory in the second game.

“It’s always tough to go on the road in our league, but especially to play a well-coached, ranked opponent,” MHS head coach Steve Hanson said.

Mason City (19-11, 9-9) got the drop on the Bobcats in the first game, scoring two times thanks to four hits off Kuehner in the bottom of the first inning. Avery Mellman started with a single and advanced to third base after back-to-back groundouts before the Mohawks came up with three-straight two-out hits. Dylan Miller tripled, Connor Dalen singled and Carter Thomas singled as well, staking the hosts to a 2-0 lead.

Carson Williams

But Kuehner (3-3) limited Mason City to just two hits over the final six frames while the Marshalltown bats found life, sometimes resuscitated by Mohawk errors. The Bobcats scored five times in the fourth inning, starting when Dylan Eygabroad’s leadoff grounder was misplayed. Wade Canaday, Joseph Harris, Will Van Buren and Carson Williams ripped consecutive singles and Dru Dobbins added a two-run double to give the Bobcats the lead for good. Blake Trowbridge capped the rally with a run-scoring groundout and MHS led 5-2.

Three insurance runs made the margin insurmountable in the sixth. Van Buren reached on an error, courtesy runner Joe Burnes moved up on a Williams sacrifice, Dobbins was intentionally walked and Bennett Hageman loaded the bases when his flyball to right was dropped. Trowbridge brought in his second run of the game, this time with a single to left, and Dobbins scored when Mason City’s left fielder overran Trowbridge’s ball. Kuehner tacked on an RBI single before the Mohawks went to the bullpen to put out the fire.

Kuehner issued a two-out walk to Dalen, his final batter because of pitch count rules, and Mellman greeted Harris with an RBI triple before the final out was achieved in the bottom of the seventh.

Kuehner finished with eight strikeouts and two walks, allowing three earned runs on six hits for the win. Harrison Nagel (5-2) got the loss, surrendering eight runs — three earned — on nine hits and one walk over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two.

Williams led the Bobcat offense going 3-for-3 at the plate with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Kuehner doubled among his two hits.

“We got off to a very slow start in game one, but Tate did a decent job of hanging in there and we were able to get some good swings off against one of their better pitchers,” said Hanson. “As Tate continued to throw strikes, our defense played error-free behind him, which made it tough for them to score. We had a couple of big innings offensively and Carson Williams had a good night at the plate.

“If we had any momentum in the first game it didn’t carry over to game two. We were sluggish at the plate and Joseph just didn’t have his best stuff. We gave them a lot of free bases in the second game, but the biggest issue we faced was the fact that we only had five hits and didn’t score a run.”

Dalen made sure of that, allowing five hits and two walks over the six-inning performance, striking out two. The Mohawks didn’t make any errors behind him, same as the Bobcats behind Kuehner in the opener, and Mason City delivered Marshalltown a shutout defeat for the second time this season.

Mason City got the only run it would need in the bottom of the first, starting with a leadoff walk to Mellman, a stolen base and an error on the attempt. Ben Pederson’s sacrifice fly made it 1-0, and his three-run homer in the Mohawks’ seven-run third was the crushing blow.

Harris allowed all nine batters he faced in the third to reach base, including three hit batsmen, and Mason City put the win in game two on cruise control.

Harris was 2-for-3 with a double to lead MHS offensively. Kuehner, Van Buren and Trowbridge each contributed a single.

“Now we have a couple days to practice and try to make some improvements in areas which we’ve been inconsistent,” Hanson said. “Next week brings a couple more demanding doubleheaders and in July more than any other month, if you don’t play well you’ll have a hard time winning.

“Our challenge is simply to work hard at being better. The rest will take care of itself.”

The Bobcats go to Waukee to close out CIML Iowa Conference play on Monday before hosting Ankeny in a cross-CIML doubleheader on July 10.

At Mason City

Game One

Marshalltown 8, Mason City 3

MHS 000 503 0 — 8 10 0

MC 200 000 1 — 3 7 5

Tate Kuehner, Joseph Harris (7) and Will Van Buren; Harrison Nagel, Brock Dvorak (6), Connor Wiemann (7) and Brian VandenBerg. W–Kuehner (3-3). L–Nagel (5-2). 2B–MHS: Kuehner, Carson Williams, Dru Dobbins. 3B–MC: Dylan Miller, Avery Mellman. LOB–MHS 5, MC 5.

Game Two

Mason City 10, Marshalltown 0, 6 innings

MHS 000 000 — 0 5 4

MC 107 101 — 10 8 0

Harris, Tyler Dunham (3), Dylan Eygabroad (5) and Van Buren; Derek Dalen and VandenBerg. W–Dalen (6-2). L–Harris (3-3). 2B–MHS: Harris; MC: Mellman 2. HR–MC: Ben Pederson (5). LOB–MHS 6, MC 3.