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Warriors pull away from Bobcats late

Joe Burnes

WAUKEE — The Marshalltown baseball team saw one of the best teams in the state to kick off the last week-long stretch of games in the regular season.

A win or two might have gone a long way to boost the Bobcats down the stretch and into the postseason, but the lessons learned from a pair of losses will have to do.

Class 4A No. 10 Waukee scored twice in the sixth inning of game one to rally for a 3-2 victory and used the momentum from the comeback to collect a 10-3 triumph in the nightcap in Monday’s CIML Iowa Conference finales for both teams.

Marshalltown (19-16, 10-10) left the bases loaded three times in the first game, stranding 13 runners in all, and couldn’t get more than the one go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. Waukee (22-10, 12-7) countered with a two-run surge in the home half and never trailed again in either game for the rest of the night.

“We put ourselves in pretty good position late in both games, despite not playing great, but we were unable to do anything to seal the deal,” said MHS head coach Steve Hanson.

Joe Burnes represented himself well in his first varsity start in the opening game, giving the Bobcats 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits, walked six and struck out one, but left the mound in a 1-all tie. Waukee got to reliever Tate Kuehner in his first full inning, starting with a leadoff double for No. 9 hitter Augie Muenzemay. One out later, Jalen Martinez singled and Alex Walsh followed with a two-run single to center.

The Bobcats could only answer with a two-out walk to Nick Rebik in the top of the seventh as MHS went down scoreless in its final at-bat.

Jackson Payne struck out 10 but walked four over 5 1/3 innings for the Warriors, allowing two runs on six hits, but Luke Gainer got the win for his 1 2/3 frames of hitless relief.

Marshalltown loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first inning but couldn’t push a run across. The Bobcats left the sacks jacked in the third and sixth, both times with two outs, but couldn’t manufacture a run.

“In game one Joe Burnes did a nice job in his first varsity start on the mound,” said Hanson. “We did a great job taking the lead in the top of the sixth and had opportunities to tack on that were unsuccessful. Waukee’s a top-10 team and we gave them a couple extra outs and some free bases, which got us beat.”

Marshalltown evened the score in the fourth with Kuehner’s two-out single to drive in Blake Trowbridge, who had reached on a fielder’s choice before stealing second.

In the sixth, Rebik led off with a single, stole second and scored two batters later when Dylan Eygabroad’s bunt was misplayed. The Bobcats eventually loaded the bases but could do no more damage.

The second game turned Waukee’s way in the bottom of the sixth when the Warriors broke open a 4-3 game with a six-run surge that included six hits, one walk and one hit batsman.

Bennett Hageman took a two-out walk in the top of the seventh, but that’s all the Bobcats got in retort against Waukee pitcher Jackson Wentworth.

Wentworth (7-3) struck out six, walked three and allowed one earned run on two hits in the complete-game victory. Marshalltown’s four-player pitching staff combined to strikeout four and walk four, but four of the Warriors’ 11 hits went for extra bases.

“In the second game we closed the gap to one run and, again, were in a pretty good position when we gave up several free bases and couldn’t handle a sacrifice bunt which allowed Waukee some momentum that we were unable to stop.”

Eygabroad had both of Marshalltown’s two hits and scored two of the team’s three runs. He crossed home plate in the fourth inning on an error and Wade Canaday scored on a Will Van Buren groundout to make it 3-2 Waukee, and Eygabroad scored again in the sixth when he stole third base and took home on the errant throw to make it 4-3.

“We saw Waukee’s best pitching, which is a great tuneup for the postseason, but we struck out way too many times and walked way too many batters to have a chance,” said Hanson. “That’s July baseball. We need to get better at being opportunistic offensively and we have to clean up our defense if we hope to make a run against good teams in the tournament.”

Marshalltown hosts Ankeny for a cross-CIML doubleheader at 5 p.m. Wednesday night before closing the regular season with a twinbill on July 15 at Ames.

At Waukee

Game One

Waukee 10, Marshalltown 3

MHS 000 201 0 — 3 2 2

WAU 201 016 X — 10 11 3

Wade Canaday, Joseph Harris (3), Will Van Buren (6), Tyler Dunham (6) and Van Buren, Harris (6); Jackson Wentworth and Jacob Goyke. W–Wentworth (7-3). L–Canaday (6-2). 2B–WAU: Mitch Randall, Cole Kaufman, Alex Walsh, Augie Muenzemay. LOB–MHS 3, WAU 6.

Game Two

Waukee 3, Marshalltown 2

MHS 000 101 0 — 2 6 2

WAU 010 002 X — 3 8 2

Joe Burnes, Tate Kuehner (5) and Van Buren; Jackson Payne, Luke Gainer (6) and Goyke. W–Gainer (1-1). L–Kuehner (3-4). 2B–WAU: Muenzemay. LOB–MHS 13, WAU 11.