It has been said luck favors the prepared.
Newton Senior High’s Cardinals were prepared Friday night when luck came their way against their hosts, the Saydel High Eagles. The Eagles had regained the lead in the baseball game, 5-4, in the fifth inning.
Saydel’s defense made two crucial mistakes in the top of the sixth. The Cardinals were prepared to take advantage for two runs then shut down the Eagles the final two innings for a 6-5 road victory.
“This was a big win for us. They had their ace on the hill and expected to win easily. This really showed the resilience of our kids,” said Pat Riley, Cardinal co-coach.
Saydel junior Brandon Hodges (7-3) threw four shutout innings and struck out 10 against the Cardinals. Hodges had three of his team’s 10 hits, scoring three runs in the game. One of those hits was a two-run home run to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning.
But the Cardinals broke through against Hodges in the top of the fifth inning, trailing 2-0. Derek Wrage connected for a one-out single then swiped second base with two gone. Jeff Stanton followed suit — a single and a stole base.
With two on and two gone, Chandler Sturtz ripped an RBI single followed by a base hit by Taylor Field to drive in another run. A wild pitch by Hodges moved the runners up a base and Tyler Wood delivered a two-run single to put the Cards in front 4-2.
Saydel (17-8) answered in its half of the fifth. Alex Gustafson doubled and scored on Hodges’ home run to forge a 4-4 tie. There were two out when Michael Miller doubled to keep the Eagles’ rally going.
Wood, who had come on in relief, struggled a bit late. Amos Wright singled then Wood issued a walk to Zane Martin to load the bases. Rece Martin was hit by a Wood pitch to force in the go-ahead run then Wood struck out Chas Nekola.
Then came the sixth inning and a little luck for the Cardinals. Michael McCormick reached safely when Gustafson couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly at second base. Evan Shimon was hit by a pitch and the two base runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Hodges responded by striking out Wrage and Levi Michener. Stanton powered the ball to right field and Saydel’s Alex Garton misplayed it. McCormick and Shimon, who were on the move on the 1-0 pitch, scored to put the Cardinals in front 6-5. Sturtz singled but Stanton was thrown out trying to score on the play.
“We made a few big plays defensively to prevent big innings by Saydel throughout the game,” said Newton co-coach Darin Tisdale. “We were able to get runners on base and take advantage of defensive mistakes by Saydel to beat Saydel’s best pitcher.”
Tisdale pointed out the pitching efforts of Zach Gifford, who started the game on the mound, and Jacob Marter. They each gave the Cardinals two innings of work and each allowed one run on three hits. Gifford walked one and struck out one.
Saydel scored a run in the first and one in the third for its 2-0 lead.
“Zach and Jacob pitched well for four innings,” Tisdale said.
Wood pitched two innings for the win. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He worked around a two-out walk in the sixth with a fielder’s choice play to end the inning.
Wrage took over on the mound in the seventh. He picked up a save by striking out Miller and Wright then getting Zane Martin to line out to Sturtz at second to end the contest.
“Derek did another good job of competing in a relief appearance to secure the win,” Tisdale said.
Sturtz and Jacob Hill each had two singles for Newton. Field, Wood, Wrage and Stanton had a single apiece.
“We hung in there despite early struggles and scored some runs late in the game. We had another great defensive outing, again having no errors,” Riley said.
Tonight, the Cardinals (15-14) have senior night at Eversman Field in Woodland Park. They take on Little Hawkeye Conference leader Norwalk (21-9) at 7:30.