Pitching and offensive struggles hurt War Eagles

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CJ Polkinghorn pitched in relief against MFL MarMac, allowing two hits and two earned runs. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Drake Ostrander takes a swing in the game versus the Bulldogs. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Clayton Ridge/Central baseball team started last week with a win before dropping the next four contests, as defensive mistakes and lackluster offense put the team at 3-12 overall. 


The lone win came June 14, in the first game of a doubleheader against North Fayette Valley, as the War Eagles put up a five-run fifth inning to hold on for a 6-5 victory. 


The offense came through with six hits, including a homerun. They were aided by two walks, one hit batter and five TigerHawk errors. Drake Ostrander went 2-3 with a homerun, two runs scored, one RBI and one stolen base, while Hazen Loan went 1-4 with a run and Caleb Helle went 1-4 with one run and one stolen base. 


The offense was able to overcome poor fielding, as the War Eagles committed five errors and allowed five stolen bases. The CR/C pitching also helped the offense by keeping the TigerHawks in check, as starter Caden Helle pitched 4 and one-third innings, only giving up three hits, four walks and three earned runs, while striking out five. Brandon Thiese came in for the save, pitching two and two-thirds innings, giving up one run on one hit.


In the second game, despite leading in most statistical categories and holding the TigerHawks to a .150 batting average, the 11 walks issued by the War Eagle pitching staff and four errors on defense proved to be all NFV needed to squeak out a 5-3 victory.  


Offensively, CR/C performed well, getting eight hits. Leaders were Ostrander, who went 2-4 while scoring one run and stealing two bases, and Caleb Helle, who was 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Evan Schroeder went 1-4 and scored a run. 


Ostrander completed the first two and two-thirds innings, giving up two hits, six walks and three earned runs. In relief, Caleb Helle held the TigerHawks hitless, but issued five walks that led to two more runs. 


“We expected two winnable games coming into the night and were able to grind out a win in the hard fought opener. We made too many defensive mistakes and allowed too many free passes in the second game to be able to come out on top,” said coach Zach Mueller. 


The War Eagles were again plagued by walks and a struggling offense in their June 15 game versus MFL MarMac, losing 5-3.


The offense sent 21 batters to the plate and came away with one hit. Caden Helle was responsible for the only hit and one of the two RBIs. The other RBI came on a sacrifice fly by Schroeder. 


Defensively, CR/C played a solid game, committing just one error, but allowed four stolen bases on five attempts. 


Loan started the game, and over the course of five innings, gave up four hits, seven walks and three earned runs. He struck out six batters. CJ Polkinghorn pitched the final two innings, giving up two hits and two earned runs. 


“We expected a competitive game with MFL MarMac throwing their ace against us and a couple of seniors throwing for us. We were held in check offensively for much of the night and were only able to cash in on two runs off of some free passes in the seventh inning,” Mueller said. 


The final two games of the week, a doubleheader against South Winneshiek, ended in two lopsided defeats, as the Warriors outscored the War Eagles 26-4 across both games. 


The Warriors won game one 11-0, pitching a no-hitter in the process. The War Eagles managed to get only one player on base from a hit-by-pitch. 


The War Eagles showed improved defense, however, committing just one error, but allowed eight stolen bases. 


Brandon Thiese pitched the opening three and one-third innings for CR/C, allowing six hits, two walks and eight runs, seven of which were earned. Ashton Thiese finished the final two outs of the game, but not before giving up three hits and three earned runs. 


In game two, the War Eagles jumped out to an early three-run lead, but it was quickly overcome by the Warriors, who scored 15 runs in the next four innings, winning the game 15-4. 


The CR/C offense showed up with eight hits, including a double and two homeruns. Ostrander led the effort, going 2-3, with a double and a run scored, while Brandon Thiese went 1-3 and scored a run and Caden Helle went 1-2 with a homerun and two RBIs. Dylan Ludovissy had a 1-2 night, with a homerun and one RBI. 


Defensively, the War Eagles continued to cut down on errors, with only four, but five stolen bases allowed the opposition to move runners around the bases. 


Ostrander pitched one and a third innings, giving up seven hits, two walks and 10 runs, nine of which were earned. Ludovissy slowed the Warrior offense in relief, giving up just three hits and two earned runs, but defensive errors allowed another three runs to cross the plate.


“We expected to have our hands full with a South Winn team that has been in and out of the top 10 rankings in 1A. Ultimately, we made way too many mental and physical mistakes to really compete with a well-coached team,” Mueller said.


The War Eagles have another packed week ahead, starting with a June 21 doubleheader at Kee. On June 22, the team will play Turkey Valley at home, followed by a June 23 home game versus South Winn. On June 25, the War Eagles will travel to Sumner-Fredericksburg, then finish the week June 26 at the North Linn Tournament. 

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