South Tama outruns Mustangs, 14-10
GILMAN — South Tama County had its backs against the wall early in Tuesday night’s road game against the East Marshall Mustangs. A five-run second inning from the Mustangs (3-10) in which they did not record a hit and two more runs in the third had the Trojans down 7-2 and staring a fifth-straight defeat in the face.
From the fourth inning onwards, though, the Trojans (4-12) caught fire offensively en route to a 14-10 victory.
Trojans coach Seth Koch had mixed thoughts on his team’s performance.
“It’s one of those things,” Koch said. “We’re learning. We’ve gotta throw more strikes and play better defense, we gave up five runs without the benefit of a hit. Against good teams, you can’t do that.”
The Trojans scored two early runs in the first inning before immediately going back down with walks and errors in the second and third innings — something Koch said the team has struggled with given the shortened season and limited practice time. Koch particularly said the lack of open gym time with young, inexperienced pitchers had caused South Tama lots of issues this season.
The Mustangs brought in two runs in the third inning to take control of the contest.
The lead was gone by the next time they came up to the plate. The Trojans scored five runs in the top of the fourth, hitting a mix of liners and grounders into the outfield and capitalizing with good baserunning.
Pitching has been an issue for East Marshall this season in part due to COVID restrictions, coach Justin Frost said.
“We don’t do a lot of the normal stuff we have in the past,” Frost said. “We haven’t had a lot of time to get pitchers ready. We’re still pitching pitchers at low pitch counts because of that — it’s just been an abnormal year.”
East Marshall recovered to score two runs in the bottom of the inning and keep its lead. But in the fifth, the Trojans went ahead for good on a three-run double with two outs. The score was 11-9 and South Tama was in the driver’s seat.
Strong relief pitching from Kyler Smith held the Mustangs to one run in the bottom of the inning, and in the sixth and seventh innings junior Mickey Wanatee came in to close the game out for the Trojans. The Trojans added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh before East Marshall went down in order to give South Tama its fourth win of the season in a high-scoring shootout.
Koch said it’s important to keep the offense going heading into the final games of the regular season before districts.
“We’ve scored some runs in bunches,” Koch said. “Gotta be proud of the kids for sticking in there and making some things happen. Lane Lekin gets a big bases-loaded double to kind of break things open, that was a big clutch hit when we needed it.”
South Tama hosts Independence for a doubleheader Wednesday evening. East Marshall hosts Benton Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gilman.