Trojans tower over Tigerhawks
Davis, Christensen hit three-run homers as West Marshall wins in 6
STATE CENTER — The rain that washed out Saturday’s first attempt at Class 2A District 13 baseball action arrived early enough to keep the West Marshall baseball team from ever getting started.
Once the Trojans got going in Monday’s makeup game, there was no stopping them.
West Marshall pounded out 14 hits highlighted by a pair of three-run homers and the Trojans trampled Colfax-Mingo for a 13-3, six-inning victory in their district opener here on Monday night.
After South Hamilton and PCM finished their first-round pairing that was suspended by rain on Saturday night, West Marshall (12-5) finally got its chance to take the field. Sophomore right-hander Kinnick Christensen held Colfax-Mingo (6-10) in check long enough for the Trojan bats to break out in a big way.
Kaden Davis connected on a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and Christensen added one of his own in the Trojans’ finishing six-run sixth, greeting reliever Brady Berkey with a lined shot over the fence in right-center field that made it 11-3 West Marshall.
Berkey stepped into a tough spot as Tigerhawks starting pitcher Trystin Ross ran up against his pitch count as the Trojans loaded the bases with no outs to start the sixth.
Berkey’s first pitch found the backstop, allowing Clay Cuva to score, and his third pitch cleared the fence on Christensen’s third home run of the season.
“I thought we did a nice job of grinding out some at-bats early and putting some pressure on [Ross],” said West Marshall head coach Jerod Brown. “We’ve really talked about the 9-on-1 mentality, more not looking for the knockout punch and just looking for the body blows and rack up pitch count. In the first inning he threw 30 and the second inning I think he was around 20. In the third and fourth innings we didn’t do our best but it paid off and helped in the fifth and sixth.”
West Marshall carried a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the fifth before Peyton Hart led off with a double down the right-field line, Christensen drove him home with a single and Davis followed with another hit. Two outs later, Jeremy Sly chopped a grounder through the middle to make it a 7-3 Trojan advantage.
The dam crumbled in the sixth as Cuva led off with a double, Gabe Jone walked and Hart reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Berkey inherited an unenviable situation and couldn’t escape it against the heart of the Trojans’ batting order.
“Sometimes we have a tendency just to be early a lot,” Brown said. “Kinnick had an at-bat earlier where that was the case with him, but he did a better job later of letting the ball travel. Obviously that’s something everyone works on, but we had some nice adjustments.
“We’re not always going to get hits but make it competitive and make the other team earn it. It’s not always the sexy at-bat but it’s the competitive at-bat. It’s not a pop-up for a strikeout, it’s finding a way to get the ball in play, especially late in the count and two-out hits will get you to heaven.”
After Christensen’s round-tripper cleared the bases, Davis got it going again with a single. Owen Siegert reached on a fielder’s choice and Sly was hit by a pitch, just in time for Ryan Reyerson to deliver a game-ending, two-run double.
Davis finished 3-for-4 with his first home run of the season, two runs scored and three RBIs to lead the Trojan lineup.
“It was my first one all season, I’ve been struggling to put it over,” Davis said. “I usually hit the top of the fence, but it felt amazing, satisfying, relieving for once to finally get it over.
“It was huge, it brought all the energy up early in the game which usually kills the other team by the end of the game, which I think it did.”
Christensen finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs, while Hart was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Sly went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Cuva was 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Designated hitter Dru Wilder and Brayden Evertsen each added a single.
On the mound, Christensen managed to work around seven Colfax-Mingo hits by limiting his walks to two and getting good defense behind him. The Trojans didn’t commit an error to avoid helping the Tigerhawks hang around.
“I just came out there and tried to throw strikes,” said Christensen. “[Davis’ home run] gave us a lot of momentum early and it gave us a lot of confidence. It just kept the momentum going and we just started rolling.”
Davis thought Christensen’s effort on the mound was equally momentous.
“He looked amazing, definitely his best performance all year,” Davis said. “It was huge. He came in and threw strikes, got people out and we made plays behind him. It was definitely huge on his part not allowing a lot of freebies.”
Colfax-Mingo was tagged for two errors but missed its chance to stay competitive with a pair of fly balls that found their way down in left field. Still, nine of the 10 runs Ross allowed were earned as he surrendered 11 hits and two walks while striking out three in five innings.
Nate Jones had two of the Tigerhawks’ seven hits, while Cole Bracewell had an RBI single and an RBI groundout.
West Marshall advance to the next round to face Des Moines Christian (12-6) at 4:30 p.m. today in Story City. Top-seeded Roland-Story faces South Hamilton in the 7 p.m. contest.
West Marshall 13, Colfax-Mingo 3, 6 innings
At State Center
C-M 001 020 — 3 7 2
WM 300 136 — 13 14 0
Trystin Ross, Brady Berkey (6) and Zach Steenhoek; Kinnick Christensen and Peyton Hart. W–Christensen (4-0). L–Ross (4-2). 2B–C-M: Ross; WM: Hart, Ryan Reyerson, Clay Cuva. HR–WM: Kaden Davis (1), Christensen (3). LOB–C-M 5, WM 5.