NEWTON — Six innings under his belt and no hits allowed. Newton junior Tyler Wood went back on the mound to face Grinnell’s Tigers in the seventh inning.
Four pitches in, the no-hitter hopes of Wood were dashed. Grinnell’s junior third baseman Denton York connected on a 1-2 pitch and smashed a double.
“The win is the most important thing, but I am a little upset. I’m not going to lie,” Wood said after three ground balls later, he had a one-hit, complete game with the Cardinals winning 5-1.
“I was pretty close. I was thinking about it but I wasn’t going to talk about it. I gave up that hit. I thought I had the pitch to get it done and he got ahold of it,” Wood added.
Wood admitted he had a shaky start to the game.
“The first inning I kind of struggled. I got the bases loaded and worked out of the game. Then in the second inning I came out strong and from then on,” Wood said.
Aside from two errors — one in the first and one in the sixth, the Cardinal defense made the plays behind Wood. Wood notched nine strikeouts and issued two walks.
“The W is the best part and get off the losing streak,” Wood said. “My fastball was working pretty well and I’d throw an off-speed to keep them off balance. This was the farthest I’ve gotten with a no-hit effort.”
Newton, which had lost a couple close games of late, was in another one with Grinnell in Little Hawkeye Conference play. The Cardinals took advantage of two Tiger errors to manufacture a run in the second inning.
Mike McCormick reached on a one-out error and moved to second on a passed ball. An errant throw to third allowed Derek Wrage to reach safely, ending up at second base on the play.
McCormick attempted to steal home and was tagged out. Jeff Stanton, who had two singles in the game, drove in the run on a base hit.
Stanton’s second base hit came with one gone in the fifth. Bryce Tish used a sacrifice bunt to move Stanton to second base. Chandler Sturtz singled to center field and Stanton scored.
Wood and the Cardinals worked around an error in the top of the sixth to retire the Tigers. Then they cashed in on a Tiger error in the bottom of the inning.
“I was working well but it was good to get those insurance runs. Everybody was hitting the ball and getting on base,” Wood said. “Jordan (Travis) came through with the big hit. He was due. He has been hitting the ball hard all year.”
Michael Barr hit a ball hard to second base and reached on an error to open the sixth for the Cardinals. He dashed to second on a passed ball and swiped third base. Evan Shimon drew a walk.
Jordan Travis belted a two-run triple over the Grinnell center fielder’s head.
“I was just looking for a pitch I could hit. He gave me one right down the middle. I was just trying to hit it to the outfield to score a run,” Travis said. “We’ve been hitting the ball a lot better since the first week of the games. Sometimes we didn’t capitalize on it, but tonight we did.”
After York doubled for Grinnell in the seventh, Wood coaxed ground balls out of the next three hitters. A run scored but the Cardinals sealed with victory breaking a three-game losing skid.
Newton co-head coaches Darin Tisdale and Pat Riley agreed it was a big conference win at the end of a long week. The Cardinals improved to 4-3 in Little Hawkeye play and 5-7 overall.
Newton has another long week starting tonight at Oskaloosa for a LHC doubleheader. The Cardinals have 12 games this week, concluding at home for the Cardinal Tournament Saturday at Woodland Park. Newton will play two junior varsity games in the morning and two varsity games in the afternoon.