GRINNELL — Newton baseball co-coaches Darin Tisdale and Pat Riley were pretty unhappy with the Cardinals’ offense approach at the plate on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday, the team may have won some points back with their leaders.
The Cardinals scored early and often on the Tigers of Grinnell, and they walked away with the big 14-3 victory after six innings. The Cards came out hot, putting up three runs in the first inning.
They had three more big innings — the third, fifth and sixth — of three runs scored of more, and starter Derek Wrage took care of business on the hill to lock up the Little Hawkeye Conference victory.
“I think our kids needed something like that,” Riley said. “It was long overdue. It’s funny how baseball works. When it rains, it pours. We had that first inning where we scored three runs, and it just kind of opened the floodgates. And you know, sometimes you get passive, and nothing happens the rest of the game. We didn’t tonight.”
Newton’s sophomore third baseman Tyler Wood got the game started with a walk. Junior shortstop Chandler Sturtz then walked to put runners on first and second. A double steal followed by a ground-rule double off the bat of senior catcher Taylor Field put the Cards up three runs before an out was recorded. Right fielder Michael Barr then singled, putting runners at the corners. A sacrifice bunt by Mike McCormick capped off the scoring for the Cardinals in the inning.
Wrage then took to the mound in the bottom of the first, and he took control from the onset. Wrage struck out the first batter of the game, and it would not get much better from then on for the Tigers, who would have to wait until the fifth inning to see a runner cross home plate.
The Cardinals had just one defensive miscue, which didn’t lead to any Tiger runs. A large part of that is credited to Wrage’s efficiency with his pitches.
“Wrage did a good job of not allowing baserunners on,” Tisdale said. “It keeps the guys relaxed on defense to not have guys on base. He did a good job. They didn’t really hit any balls hard. He kept the counts in his favor. He had a low pitch count, which means the ball is being put into play quickly, and that helps the defense stay into it.”
“Wrage did a great job of locating pitches, keeping them down,” Riley added. “I think they had maybe one or two really solid hits, and the rest were ground balls or seeing-eye singles. We made plays for him as well.”
In the third inning, the Cardinals scored another five runs to push the lead to 8-0 over the host Tigers. With two runs already having crossed home plate, Wrage singled to right field. Jeff Stanton then doubled to right, putting runners on second and third. A balk by the Grinnell pitcher scored Wrage. Jacob Hill reached on an error, scoring Stanton. Wood singled, and a throwing error allowed Hill to score.
To lead off the fifth inning, Cardinals’ first baseman Jordan Travis took a hard fastball off the front shoulder to get on base. Wood followed with a single. Sturtz hit a dribbler to the mound, which was thrown away by the Grinnell pitcher, allowing Travis to score. Field then singled to score Wood from third. Pinch-hitter Evan Shimon hit a line drive single to score Sturtz.
The Cardinals scored another three runs in the sixth inning to put a cap on their 14-run performance.
“Every inning we were getting guys on base, so we could do some things,” Riley said. “We did those things, and we executed. That’s the difference. We’re not going to put up 14 runs every night, but it’s always nice to have one of those nights. Offensively, one guy fed off the other.”
“I think this was good,” Tisdale added. “We got into a lot of situations on offense that helped us gain some experience. It’s nice to see them have fun, running the bases and driving in runs.”
Newton 14, Grinnell 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 — R H E
N — 3 0 5 0 3 3 — 14 10 1
G — 0 0 0 0 2 1 — 3 7 5