BAXTER — The Baxter baseball team played with North Tama for six innings of Friday’s Iowa Star Conference contest.
Unfortunately, the Bolts fell behind too much in the first inning of the game and couldn’t fully recover.
The Bolts trailed North Tama 9-1 after one inning, rallied back to get within 10-7 midway through the game but the Redhawks pulled away in later innings during a 16-7 road conference win.
“It was free bases. The free stuff is what hurt us,” Baxter coach Lewis Daye said. “That’s been consistent throughout the year.”
Baxter used three pitchers in the game and the trio gave up 12 walks and hit two batters. The Bolts also committed four errors.
The victory for North Tama keeps it in the mix for the Iowa Star Conference title. The Redhawks improved to 12-3 on the year and 9-1 in conference play. Class 1A No. 9 Don Bosco is leading the Iowa Star Conference at 10-0.
Baxter came into the game with two straight wins. The Bolts dropped to 2-10 on the season and 2-7 in conference play.
The errors were still there against North Tama, but the Bolts are improving in the field.
“That’s one thing I love. We are cutting our errors down dramatically,” Daye said. “That’s where you started seeing the wins.”
North Tama plated nine runs in the first inning off senior Bryce Bacon. He came into the game with some soreness in his arm but tried to battle through it. The Redhawks tagged him for nine earned runs on five hits, three walks and one hit batter.
Bacon was pulled after two outs in the frame. He took the loss.
“We found out today that Bryce was having some arm trouble. We had to work through that a little bit,” Daye said. “I knew he has been sore a little bit. He told me before the game that he was good to go. Obviously things didn’t work out the way we thought with that.”
Baxter chipped away at its deficit with single runs in the first and second innings and then scored two in the third and three in the fourth to close to 10-7.
In the first, sophomore Cole Damman put the Bolts on the board with an RBI single. The Bolts scored a second run in the second inning when freshman Brad Matthews reached on an error and scored on eighth-grader Rory Heer’s fielder’s choice.
In the third, junior Derrick Klemme opened the frame with a walk and then Damman singled. After Bacon moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt, junior Ian Thomson made it 10-3 with an RBI single.
With two outs, Matthews walked to load the bases and freshman Andrew Klemme walked in a run to make it 10-4.
Baxter chased North Tama starter Izach Hensen in the fourth. The Bolts scored three runs to close the gap to three. Senior Travis Lindemoen singled then stole second. He moved to third and then scored on Derrick Klemme’s RBI bunt single.
With two outs, sophomore Carter Nelsen hit a two-run single to cap the Bolts’ scoring.
Their sense of pride and the desire to do well is always there,” Daye said. “Whenever they step between the lines, they are ready to go and they give me 110 percent. As a coach, I can’t ask for anything else. I won’t ever question their effort.”
North Tama’s Parker Hulme halted the Bolts’ rally. He threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing two hits, one walk, one hit batter and one strikeout.
The Redhawks pulled away with a four-run fifth and a two-run sixth.
Damman kept the game close on the mound for Baxter. He allowed seven runs — four earned — on five hits with eight walks in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four.
Derrick Klemme pitched the final inning. He got the first two batters with ease but left the bases loaded when he got Tucker Morrison to ground out to his brother Andrew at second base. Derrick allowed one hit, one walk and one hit batter in his only inning.
Derrick Klemme continued his red-hot hitting with three more hits. He was 3-for-3 with two runs and a walk against the Redhawks. He came into the game hitting a team-best .382 and is 9-of-16 in his last four games.
“He’s been doing it all year. He’s the most improved player from last year to this year,” Daye said. “He’s just playing loose and not getting into his own head. He doesn’t overthink it. He’s getting good quality reps at practice and not joking around. It’s great that it’s showing up in the game. I can’t praise him enough for what he is doing.”
Lindemoen was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Damman was 2-for-3 with two runs, one RBI and a walk. Nelsen’s only hit drove in two runs and he also walked.