PELLA — Deep in the heart of Dutch Country, the Newton baseball team found itself locked in a tight battle with the Little Dutch of Pella on Monday night.
Runs were at a premium for both teams, and Newton’s two two-run outbursts combined with Michael Barr’s effort on the hill were enough to subdue the Little Dutch bats as the Cardinals came away with a 4-3 victory.
Newton got the scoring started in the top of the third inning. Sophomore Tyler Wood hit a ground-ball single through the right side of the infield to lead things off. Chandler Sturtz followed that up with a single, going to the opposite field. Senior Taylor Field stepped to the plate and hit a deep fly ball to advance both of the Cardinal runners.
Jordan Travis attempted to squeeze a run in for Newton, but with two strikes, his finger was clipped by the ball on the bunt attempt. After a conference with Newton co-coach Pat Riley, Travis headed to the dugout to get checked out, and Jeff Stanton took his spot. Travis had been hit on the wrist earlier in the game, and had taken at least three hit-by-pitches so far this season.
“Yeah Jordan has been hit a lot this year,” Riley said. “He’s had some bad luck with that, but we thought it was best to get him looked at.”
Despite being down in the count 0-2 and coming in cold off the bench, Stanton was able to work a walk to load the bases. Evan Shimon did the same behind him, and Wood walked home with the first Cardinal run.
“Jeff, coming into the at-bat down 0-2, really did just an awesome job of getting on base,” Riley said. “Shimon did the same behind him, and it really helped us out. If Jeff doesn’t take that walk, we’re having a very different conversation right now.”
With Levi Michener batting, a balk was called on the Pella pitcher, bringing in the second Newton run.
The Cards added two more runs in the top of the six, taking a 4-1 lead. In the bottom of the sixth, the Little Dutch threatened to rally. They got things started with back-to-back infield singles back to Barr on the mound. A sharp double down the right field line scored the second Little Dutch run of the game and put runners on second and third.
Darin Tisdale then headed to the mound to make the move to Jacob Marter in relief. Then, the wildness ensued. There was a sharp grounder hit to Wood at third base. When he saw the Pella runner take off for home, he fired the ball to Field covering the plate. Field chased the runner back, and tossed the ball back to Wood. Wood chased the runner yet again, getting the ball back to Field. Field’s throw back to Wood tipped off his glove, but Jacob Hill backed up the throw and got it back to Wood, who tagged the runner out. Noticing the runner cheating out of the corner of his eye, Wood flung the ball to second base in time to nail the runner and end the inning.
“Tyler definitely made the right play there,” Newton co-coach Darin Tisdale said. “That was a crazy play, but it was a good job by everybody involved to stay alert. They made that play, and it helped us win this game.”
The Cardinals would face more trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning. A leadoff double got things started for the Little Dutch. The Cardinals recorded an out before another double clanged off the left field fence, bringing the third run home for the home team. Tisdale then made the move to bring in junior Derek Wrage.
Wrage spent almost no time warming up, as he came to the mound directly from playing first base. That did not seem to matter, though. Wrage struck out both batters looking.
“Derek’s experience in these situations is what makes him so tough,” Riley said. “To come in after playing first base all night and only throwing eight warmup pitches was really impressive. He knows how to pitch, and he trusts his stuff.”
Barr got the win for Newton, pitching 5.1 innings and giving up just two runs. Tisdale was pleased with the sophomore’s adept way of quickly fixing any problems that arose.
“He knows his mechanics really well,” Tisdale said. “If he does something wrong, he immediately knows what it was, and he fixes it. A lot of pitchers at this level struggle with that, and it gets in their heads, but Michael was great with that for us tonight.”