June 27, 2022

Fast starts help Cardinals in near sweep of Tigers

Newton baseball downs No. 1 Grinnell in LHC doubleheader

GRINNELL — Newton’s baseball team faced a Grinnell squad on Wednesday which had won seven straight games and started the season 20-1.

The Cardinals traveled to the Tigers’ home turf and came ready to play.

A fast start in both games of a Little Hawkeye Conference doubleheader gave Newton a chance to down the Tigers. The visitors were able to do just that in the opener and nearly came up with the road sweep over the Class 3A No. 1 Tigers.

Newton scored five of its eight runs in the first three innings of game one and defeated Grinnell 8-4. In the nightcap, the Cardinals plated all six of their runs in the first three frames, but Grinnell used a five-run second and a two-run sixth to edge its visitors.

“I’m really happy with our performance tonight overall,” Newton baseball coach Brad Kahler said. “When we hit, we can beat anybody. We were really aggressive on the base paths and probably stole more bases tonight than we have all year.”

Newton (9-8 overall, 5-6 in the LHC) jumped out on the Tigers early in the first game. The Cardinals led 2-1 after one inning and then scored one in the second and two in the third to lead Grinnell 5-3 after three.

The Tigers (21-2, 9-2) plated one in the sixth to close the gap to 5-4, but Newton scored three in the seventh to stay in front.

“Any time you get the chance to play the No. 1 team, it’s a great opportunity,” Kahler said. “I’m sure it’s happened, but I can’t remember the last time Newton beat the No. 1 team in baseball.”

Braydon Chance had two hits, two runs and one steal and was hit by a pitch to lead the offense.

Eli Stewart finished with two hits, two steals and one RBI and Turner Williams doubled, scored one run, had one RBI and walked once. Williams came into the game with a team-best .467 batting average.

Kacey Sommars doubled, scored two runs and had two RBIs. He now has a team-best 20 RBIs this summer.

Brody Bauer chipped in one hit and two runs, Kael Swarts added one hit and three RBIs and Evan Grimm finished with one hit and one run.

Williams earned the win on the mound and is now 3-0 after allowing four earned runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven, hit two and walked one.

Swarts tossed the final 1 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit or a run but walked three.

“The pitchers did a really nice job,” Kahler said. “Turner did his thing on the mound.”

Colin Gibson homered, had two RBIs and was hit by two pitches to lead Grinnell’s offense.

Brady Steward allowed three earned runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter in seven innings. The Tigers were plagued by three errors.

In the nightcap, Newton and Grinnell were tied at 6-all through five innings. The Tigers scored a pair in the sixth to edge the Cardinals.

Newton finished with five hits and it committed three errors.

The hits came from Williams, Swarts, Vanderlaan, Sommars and Drew Thompson. Vanderlaan’s hit was a double and he had three RBIs, Thompson added one walk and two runs and Sommars chipped in one walk and one run.

Williams scored one run, Bauer chipped in one walk, one run and one steal, Grimm tallied one walk and one run and Stewart was hit by a pitch.

Swarts (2-1) started on the mound and took the loss after allowing six runs — five earned — on five hits in four innings. He struck out two, walked two and hit one batter.

Vanderlaan pitched two innings and surrendered two earned runs on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Gibson once again led the Tiger offense with a homer, two runs, three RBIs and two walks. He also got the save after pitching a scoreless seventh.

Will Doty tossed six frames to earn the win. He allowed no earned runs and struck out three.

Grinnell won the game despite committing six errors in the field. The Tigers had nine miscues in the doubleheader.

“We are at the halfway mark of the season and we already have more conference wins than last year and just as many wins overall, too,” Kahler said. “The credit goes to our players and coaches. When we can hit, we are a fun team to watch and we’re tough against anyone.”