Newton baseball coach Brad Kahler was happy with the Cardinals’ doubleheader split against Pella Christian on Friday night.
But he knows if they play the way they did against the Eagles, they won’t get to where they want to be at the end of the season.
“There were some positives, but I felt like we should have won game one by more and we made too many mistakes throughout the two games,” Kahler said.
Newton scored its first Little Hawkeye Conference doubleheader game one win of the season against the Eagles, winning the opener 5-4 on Senior Night.
Pella Christian used a seven-run third inning to win the nightcap 11-6.
All seven runs in that deciding third frame came with two outs and after an Eagle batter reached on a dropped third strike.
“This season is learning how to play the game the right way. We’ll use it as a teachable moment,” Kahler said about the third frame of game two. “You have to be locked in at all times.”
Newton has just one senior and Derek Lanser was recognized before the first game.
In the opener, Turner Williams threw six strong innings and Newton scored three runs in the fifth to grab the lead for good.
Braydon Chance pitched the seventh and got the save for the Cardinals, but Pella Christian plated two runs to close the gap.
“Turner pitched well again. He’s pitched well in every game this year,” Kahler said. “We shut him down because he’s coming back from Tommy John. He’s limited to about 80 pitches and that’s right about where he was at.
“Braydon has been really good for us in that role, too.”
Newton (5-15 overall, 3-14 in conference play) led 2-1 after one in the opener. In the first, Williams walked, Kacey Sommars and Chance both singled and Kael Swarts put the Cardinals on the board with a two-run single.
Newton failed to score more runs when the next three batters struck out.
Pella Christian (8-17, 5-12) tied the game in the third and neither team scored again until Newton’s three-run fifth.
In the fifth, Williams singled and Sommars reached base on a dropped third strike. Williams went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Chance’s sacrifice fly.
Eli Stewart singled with two outs, stole second and scored on Evan Grimm’s RBI single.
Williams left the mound with the lead after six innings. He allowed two earned runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks.
Chance’s save in the seventh allowed Williams (1-3) to get the win. Chance allowed two runs — one earned — on one hit with one walk.
Williams had 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and sixth and faced four batters in the second and fifth.
Newton’s offense went down in order in the second, fourth and sixth and got just a Swarts single in the third.
“We had base running mistakes and missed signs,” Kahler said. “The theme from game one to game two is we have to get over the two-strike approach. That has to get better.
“We had guys on base. I know they are young, but it can’t be an excuse anymore. They are starting and have played the whole year. We have to figure things out.”
Kahler made changes to his lineup and will continue to do so until he can find nine hitters.
“I am not going to just stick with the same lineup,” Kahler said. “I am giving a lot of kids opportunities because we just don’t have nine hitters right now. I will cycle through them until someone gets to the top.”
Swarts led the offense in the opener with two hits, two RBIs and two steals. Sommars, Chance, Williams, Stewart, Grimm and Drew Thompson all had one hit.
Sommars scored two runs, Williams walked and scored one run, Chance had an RBI sacrifice fly, Stewart tallied one RBI and one run and Grimm had an RBI.
The Cardinals trailed 2-1 after one inning in the nightcap but the Eagles plated one in the second and seven in the third to stay ahead for good.
Swarts started on the mound and the first three Eagles had hits in the first to put PC up 2-0. In the bottom of the first, Newton scored one after Williams reached on an infield single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sommars and scored on an error.
The Eagles made it 3-1 in the second after a hard-hit ball went down the third-base line. It went down as a single in the book and that batter stole second, moved to third on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly.
In the top of the third, Swarts put two runners on by way of a walk and a hit by pitch but got two outs in between.
He got the third out on a strikeout but the Eagles stayed alive when Trevor Veenstra reached to load the bases.
The next five batters recorded hits and the Eagles scored seven runs to make it 10-1 after three.
“One play doesn’t lose the game but that play did not help,” Kahler said.
Newton left the bases loaded in the fourth and stranded two in the fifth, both times ending the inning with strikeouts.
Before they stranded two runners in the fifth, the Cardinals plated one run to close the gap.
Sommars and Swarts both walked and Grimm singled to load the bases. Sommars sprinted home on a wild pitch.
Sommars relieved Swarts with two outs in the fifth. He got out of a jam in the sixth but allowed an earned run in the seventh.
Newton’s big inning came in the sixth when it plated four runs. Brody Bauer led off with a double, Williams and Sommars had back-to-back singles and Chance reached on an error. Swarts was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Stewart had an RBI fielder’s choice and Grimm’s RBI single made it 10-6.
Sommars’ hit in the inning also was an RBI single but Newton left two on base.
“I liked us coming back. It felt like it could have been over in five,” Kahler said. “I told them to imagine this was a district game and we were playing for our season. We tried to do too much in the third and fourth. We can’t have a nine-run home run.”
Williams had three hits in the game to lead the offense. Grimm finished with two hits, one RBI and one walk, Bauer doubled and walked twice and Stewart had one hit, one RBI and was hit by a pitch.
Sommars added one hit and one walk, Swarts walked once and was hit by a pitch and Chance drew a walk.
Swarts took the loss on the mound but only three of the 10 runs he allowed were earned. He gave up eight hits and struck out eight while walking one and hitting one in 4 2/3 innings.
Sommars pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run on three hits with one strikeout and one walk.