Trailing 1-0, Newton High’s Cardinals went to work in the bottom of the fifth inning at home against Boone’s Toreadors.
“That’s our game — put pressure on people. We got a couple of walks and a stolen base against a good pitcher. We put pressure on him and it got to him a bit,” said Dustin Brisel, Newton head coach, following a 4-1 victory for the Cardinals.
Senior second baseman Mike McCormick drew the first walk in the fifth, then stole second base. Duncan Lee, the Cardinals’ junior right fielder, battled against Boone senior pitcher Jake Mallas. Lee worked a free pass to first base.
Junior third baseman Drew Stout put down a bunt with two on and no outs. Stout’s bunt turned into a fielder’s choice with all Cardinal runners safe to load the bases. Senior Tristan Peters hit into a fielder’s choice with McCormick out at the plate in a close play.
Newton still had the bases loaded when sophomore shortstop Connor Gholson came to the plate. Gholson ripped a fly ball to left field, which was misplayed by Boone’s Drew Wilber and Lee crossed the plate with the tying run.
Jeff Stanton, senior center fielder, singled, but no run scored as Gholson was called out for interference when the ball hit him as he ran toward second base.
With two gone, senior catcher Jordan Travis hit the ball hard at Boone’s Tyler Newbold at shortstop. Newbold couldn’t handle the ball cleanly, and Stout scored the go-ahead run.
Tyler Wood, the Cardinals’ senior starting pitcher, reached on a dropped third strike and Peters scored. Newton was up 3-1. Mallas hit Newton senior first baseman Michael Barr with a pitch forcing in another run.
Wood did not have the crisp outing he wanted in the season opener. He issued five walks in the five innings he pitched. Wood and the Cardinals worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody out situation in the first inning with only one run crossing the plate for the Toreadors.
In the top of the sixth, Wood gave up back-to-back walks so Brisel went to the mound. Gholson and Wood switched places from pitcher to shortstop. Gholson answered the call with two strikeouts and a fielder’s choice — a diving stop at third base by Stout — to retire Boone.
Gholson worked the top of the seventh for Newton. He hit a batter with a pitch then struck out the next one. Boone loaded the bases one more time on a bloop single and an error by the Cardinals. Gholson ended the contest by striking out Jackson Hull and Wilber.
“We were all nervous. It was first-game jitters for the players and for myself,” Brisel said. The first-year head coach got a water-bucket shower from his players following the game. “Once we settled down, we made plays, routine plays to stay in the game.”
Travis made his first start behind the plate for Newton. He threw two Boone base runners out on stolen base attempts at second base.
“This is the best win I’ve had for baseball,” Travis said. “I worked hard to be ready for it, but I was nervous back there. I didn’t want to miss pitches or allow runners to steal bases on me. Tyler had a shaky start for him, but settled down. Then Connor came in with a lot of confidence and threw strikes.”
Wood got the win on the mound. He allowed one run on three hits and five walks. Wood struck out four batters. Gholson picked up the save with two complete innings of work, giving up one hit, hitting a batter and recording five strikeouts.
Mallas limited the Cardinals to two hits in a losing effort for Boone. He walked four, hit a batter and struck out six.
Lee and Stanton each had a single for Newton. Gholson and Barr had one RBI each.
Boone scored in the first inning. Newbold laced a double to right field and Hull singled to left. Wilber drew a walk then Mallas had an RBI sacrifice fly. The Cardinals used a fielder’s choice and Wood catching Colby Disbrowe trying to steal second base to get out of the inning.
“All the hype of playing our season opener yesterday (Tuesday), and it getting rained out carried over to tonight,” Travis said. “We really wanted to win at home and we had a great crowd out here to support us.”
Brisel said once the Cardinals got past the first inning, things began to settle in to the routine they wanted. He said they believed they had a solid defense and that was proved tonight.
“Tyler and Connor threw strikes, and our defense backed them up. Travis did a great job behind the plate for us,” Brisel said. “We have things we have to improve on, but the good thing is we get to turn around and play again tomorrow.”
Newton (1-0) plays at Chariton Thursday. The Cardinals go to Ankeny Saturday for a tournament. Tuesday’s game at Marshalltown has been rescheduled for June 6.
Boone won the junior varsity game, 7-1, Wednesday.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org