COLLINS — Collins-Maxwell/Baxter’s baseball team experienced a bit of a reality check Thursday night.
Coming off their first back-to-back victories since the current group of seniors entered high school, the Raiders took a swift punch to the gut in the form of an 11-run first inning from North Polk and suffered their biggest loss of the season, a 14-0 defeat in five innings.
“I don’t think we were ready to go at batting practice [before the game],” CMB head coach Max Seeman said. “Guys were pretty loose after winning two, which is fine. You have to play loose, but I just think they got a little too lazy and unfocused.
“We haven’t really dealt with a whole lot of [success]. Didn’t last year and now early this year, so yeah, that definitely has something to do with it, learning to deal with the good and the bad.”
CMB never recovered from its first-inning woes, which were as much self-inflicted as they were done by North Polk.
CMB starting pitcher Zach Samson never appeared comfortable on the mound. The right hander worked the dirt in front of the pitching rubber with his cleats multiple times in the first inning trying get it the way he liked and pitched through some discomfort in his throwing arm.
Perhaps as a result, his stay was short. Samson didn’t make it past the first inning, in which he walked or hit as many batters (five) as North Polk had hits.
North Polk’s Grant Lang did about as much damage as was individually possible in the first inning, driving in the game’s first two runs on a single his first time up and then hitting a three-run home run for his team’s ninth, 10th, and 11th runs as the inning’s 13th batter.
“I just wasn’t throwing well and wasn’t hitting my spots early,” Samson said. “Definitely, that caused a big first inning.
“It just wasn’t my night tonight for throwing. Just off.”
Samson’s counterpart, North Polk senior Austin Hillebo, cruised through CMB’s lineup. He said seeing his teammates score 11 runs in the first “definitely took off the pressure” before taking the mound and it showed. Hillebo allowed a lead-off single in the bottom of the first and then recorded 12 consecutive outs in the four innings he pitched.
“First batter I missed my spot and after that I settled down,” Hillebo said. “I got loose and hit spots finally.”
CMB’s second-year head coach attributed some of his team’s shortcomings on Thursday to a lack of focus he noticed during batting practice before the game. He said his young squad is “definitely” still learning how to deal with and build on success, something the Raiders (2-4) weren’t able to do after defeating Nevada on June 2 and Greene County Wednesday night.