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Top-ranked West Marshall surpasses South Hamilton in extras for 17th straight win

T-R PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER - West Marshall sophomore Evan Siegert, left, claps toward his dugout after driving in Owen Siegert as the tying run with a single in the bottom of the eighth inning of Monday’s Heart of Iowa Conference baseball game at Schilling Field in State Center. The top-ranked Trojans outlasted South Hamilton, 3-2.

STATE CENTER — West Marshall baseball couldn’t overlook South Hamilton on Monday.

While the teams are on opposite halves of the Heart of Iowa Conference standings, the Trojans needed extra innings and an eighth-inning rally capped by an AJ Dee sacrifice fly to stave off the Hawks, 3-2, in eight intense innings at Schilling Field.

West Marshall (24-1, 11-0 HOIAC) won its 17th game in a row against a South Hamilton team currently in seventh in the eight-team conference.

“They played a lot better than their record,” West Marshall starting pitcher Noah DeSotel said. “And there were some points where we played a lot worse than our record — but it was nice for us to come to the end and get some nice hits to finish it off.”

The Hawks led 2-1 after an Owen Duns RBI single in the top of the eighth. Owen Siegert started the bottom of the eighth with a single and quickly stole second base. Evan Siegert roped a line drive to left field to score Owen and moved to second on the relay throw home. After South Hamilton brought in Ryland Ubben to replace Prestin Van De Pol on the mound, Beckham DeSotel blooped a single that was just off the glove of a leaping South Hamilton first baseman to set up first and third for AJ Dee.

T-R PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER - West Marshall’s Owen Siegert (11) is congratulated at home plate by Beckham DeSotel after scoring the tying run in the eighth inning of Monday’s game in State Center.

Dee, a junior, lifted a fly ball to deep center field to score Evan tagging from third.

“I had a strong feeling we were gonna win [after tying it up],” Evan Siegert said. “Our 3-4-5 has been hitting it all year and I knew that somebody was going to do something, and once AJ hit that ball, I knew I was going to score on it, it’s a great feeling.”

South Hamilton’s Braden Young broke a scoreless tie leading off the fifth inning with a solo home run over the right-center fence. In the bottom of the fifth, Evan Siegert clutched a two-out single to advance Grayson Shaver to third and then took second base. A balk advanced Shaver home to tie the game but Siegert was left at third.

The Trojans were retired in order in the sixth and seventh innings — West Marshall batters made plenty of contact on Monday but often sent balls right at outfielders, including DJ Ridout having a home run robbed at the fence by a South Hamilton outfielder in the sixth.

“It’s easy to get frustrated when you do everything right and don’t get results,” West Marshall head coach Jerod Brown said. “We started to press there a bit as the game went on, … we tried to do a little more than maybe we should have given the close nature of the game. But we flipped a switch there at the end and stayed within ourselves.”

Noah DeSotel stopped most South Hamilton threats on the mound with his pitch placement, racking up 11 strikeouts — six of them called strike threes — with two earned runs allowed on six hits in eight innings.

Even heading to the dugout down 2-1, DeSotel felt the Trojans had done enough to have a chance in the bottom of the eighth. Brown said the Trojan defense and DeSotel’s pitching gave West Marshall a chance to come back in the eighth.

“I felt pretty confident that our top of the order could come through in the clutch,” DeSotel added. “We had seen their guy a couple times and when they brought the new guy in I knew he’d be flustered, that’s a tough situation for anybody. Tensions were high, pressure was up, but we pulled it off.”

Monday’s game followed a successful doubleheader against then second-ranked (1A) Lynnville-Sully on Saturday, with the Trojans winning 14-4, 14-11. Lynnville-Sully dropped to fifth in this week’s rankings.

Closer games like Monday’s, no matter what number is in front of the opponent’s name, can only help West Marshall down the stretch.

“It’s a good experience for us to learn through,” Brown said. “We’re gonna play a lot of these 2-1, 3-2 games, so it was a good thing for us to be able to learn and hopefully handle things better next time.”

The Trojans return to Schilling Field on Wednesday to take on Greene County.

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