COLFAX — On the way home from the hospital on June 25, Colfax-Mingo junior Zarek Hill spent some of his time texting Tigerhawk baseball coach Brian Warrick telling him he’d be OK to play against Lynnville-Sully on June 27.
He dislocated his finger in the Tigerhawks’ win over North Mahaska but knew it was his turn to pitch two days later. And with the conference title on the line, he wanted the ball in his hands.
“He’s a really tough kid, and we knew that,” Warrick said. “He knew I was planning on pitching him in this game. On the way home from the hospital, he was texting me telling me he was going to be OK and asking if he can still pitch. I wasn’t sure then. But it went well. He threw well, the defense stood up and we snuck in a couple runs to get the win.”
Hill went the distance on the mound and allowed two hits against Lynnville-Sully, and the Tigerhawks won their first South Iowa Cedar League title with a 2-0 home victory on Senior Night.
Hill improved to 3-1 on the season after striking out seven and walking just one.
“There was a conference championship on the line so I wasn’t missing the game,” Hill said. “I wanted to pitch. I wanted to be in control of the game.”
The doctors didn’t give Hill any restrictions, but the pinky finger on his left hand was wrapped during the game.
“It hurts pretty bad right now. I caught two fly balls and the ball hit the finger both times so that hurt,” Hill said. “I was glad I got walked two times because I was having trouble swinging the bat, too.”
Lynnville-Sully (9-10 overall, 7-9 in the SICL) came into the game with six wins in a row and had won eight of its last nine games, but the Hawks were held to two hits. They got a runner to third in the fifth and had two runners on base in the sixth but couldn’t get a clutch hit against Hill.
“He started off throwing just straight fastballs and we were contacting that pretty well,” Lynnville-Sully baseball coach Scott Alberts said. “Then he started mixing it up, kept us off balanced and attacked the outside corner of the plate. He was getting outside corner calls, and we weren’t reaching those pitches. We have to do a better job of figuring that pitch out.”
The game was scoreless after two innings. Colfax-Mingo plated both runs in the third.
With one out in the bottom of the third, senior Jarod Nichols reached on an infield single and then scored from first base on a two-out RBI double by sophomore Brady Berkey. The ball landed in the gap in right-center field, and the Hawks had trouble with the relay throw.
Sophomore Trinity Schroeder kept the inning going with a two-out infield single. With Berkey on third base, Schroeder stole second. Both runners moved up a base when the throw to second went into center field.
Nichols was one of five seniors honored before the game along with Misha Seebeck, Alex Lewis, Jake Dunsbergen and Reegan Van Dyke.
Clinching the SICL title wasn’t easy for Colfax-Mingo. The Tigerhawks played the game without starter Trystin Ross, who is in Florida at a wrestling camp. Eighth-grader Cole Bracewell was injured during the game and then freshman Zach Steenhoek took a foul ball to the top of his helmet and was removed a few innings later.
Warrick was forced to move sophomore Isaac Clouse from right field to second base and bring in sophomore Hunter Greene to play right field.
Clouse made a catch at second to end the fourth, and Greene caught two fly balls in right field in the top of the seventh after making an error in the sixth.
“It was a fun game. We had to shift guys around. I was worried some, but it worked out,” Warrick said. “The biggest thing is the defense. With the exception of one play, no matter who we put out there, they can do the job. Hunter hasn’t played much for us, but we had to put him in tonight and he stepped up and played well.”
The win for Colfax-Mingo was its sixth straight, and they extended the streak to seven games after a win over Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on June 29. The Tigerhawks are now 15-3 overall and 13-2 in SICL play. They have lost only twice on the field with the third loss coming by forfeit.
“Winning tonight was important,” Warrick said. “We wanted to get the conference title out of the way and start focusing on other things and having some fun in our final game with HLV. This win takes a lot of pressure off us now.”
Berkey led Colfax-Mingo’s offense with one hit, one run and one RBI. Hill walked twice and Nichols had one hit and one run.
Colfax-Mingo 19, North Mahaska 2, five innings
NEW SHARON — Colfax-Mingo had no trouble with a slow start on June 25 against North Mahaska.
Hill’s three-run home run in the first inning got the Tigerhawks off and running, and the offense didn’t slow down during a 19-2, five-inning road win.
The Tigerhawks finished with 15 hits, and they drew 12 walks. Hill, Seebeck, Van Dyke and Berkey all had multiple hits on the night.
Hill was 3-for-4 with a walk, four runs scored and five RBIs. His three-run homer went to the shortest part of the field in right. It was his second blast of the season.
Berkey finished 3-for-3 with two walks, four runs and an RBI. One of his hits was a double. Van Dyke hit two doubles, walked once and had five RBIs. Seebeck also went 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs and two RBIs.
Bracewell, Steenhoek, Schroeder, Clouse and Nichols all finished with one hit.
Schroeder walked once, scored four runs and had one RBI, Steenhoek collected an RBI and Bracewell walked twice and scored a run. Bracewell started in the place of Ross.
Nichols added two walks and one run, and Clouse chipped in two runs and one walk.
“We hit out of our heads tonight,” Warrick said. “They knew what was at stake. It was a good night.”
Lewis earned the win on the mound. He is 7-0 on the season after allowing two runs — one earned — on five hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Colfax-Mingo 11, EBF 9
EDDYVILLE — A fast start helped Colfax-Mingo to another Class 2A win on June 29.
The Tigerhawks scored six runs in the first inning and then held on to defeat EBF, 11-9. The Tigerhawks collected 11 hits and were walked nine times in the win.
“It helped that we were able to get a lead early,” Warrick said. “That was the difference in the game.”
EBF countered Colfax-Mingo’s six-run first inning with a three-run first frame of its own. The Tigerhawks plated another run in the second and completed their scoring with two runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Rockets (14-8) scored three runs in the third, two in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Four players had at least two hits for Colfax-Mingo.
Nichols was 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs to lead the offense. Schroeder tallied three hits, scored two runs and had one RBI. Seebeck had two hits, two runs and two RBIs and Lewis finished with two hits and an RBI.
Berkey and Van Dyke both walked twice, scored one run and had one RBI, Bracewell walked once and scored a run and Clouse had one hit, one walk, one run and one RBI.
Ross returned from his wrestling trip to Florida. He had one hit, one walk, one run and one RBI at the plate and also earned the save on the mound.
Berkey started on the mound and got the win after allowing eight runs — four earned — on six hits with six strikeouts, five walks and three batters in 4 2/3 innings. The Tigerhawk defense committed five errors.
Nichols got one out in relief but allowed one run on one hit with three walks and one strikeout.
Ross tossed the final two innings for the save. He allowed no runs on no hits with two strikeouts and one walk. It was his second save of the season.