War Eagles have 4-1 week thanks to aggressive offensive approach

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Brandon Thiese scores a run during the War Eagles’ 11-1 victory over the Pirates. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Evan Schroader celebrates a hit during the War Eagles’ doubleheader sweep of the Pirates.

Elliot Kelly readies for a pitch against Postville.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Clayton Ridge/Central baseball team had a dominant 4-1 record last week, outscoring opponents 35-11 in the victories. 


The winning started June 28 with a doubleheader against Postville. The War Eagle offense lit up the scoreboard with 11 runs, while the pitching, led by CJ Polkinghorn, held the Pirates to just one unearned run on six hits. Polkinghorn also pitched a complete game, stymieing the Pirate hitters and needing just 65 pitches against 20 batters to get through the game. 


Leading the offensive charge was Caleb Helle, who went 1-2 with three stolen bases, three runs scored and one RBI. Drake Ostrander went 1-4 with a stolen base, run scored and an RBI, while Evan Schroeder went 1-2 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Hazen Loan was 1-2 with a stolen base, a run scored and an RBI, and Kurt Ross went 1-2 with three stolen bases, three runs scored and one RBI. 


The offense was aided by 12 total stolen bases, which put the Pirate defense on its heels, as did the lack of strikeouts. The War Eagles recorded zero for the game, and managed to draw four walks. Three batters were also hit by pitches. 


While game two started with the War Eagles in an early 3-0 hole, the pitching settled down and the offense proceeded to take over, scoring four runs in the second inning to take the lead. They later piled on another nine runs to win the game 13-3. 


Pitchers Dylan Ludovissy, Max Nuehring and Ross held the Pirate offense to two hits and one earned run, while striking out seven. Nuehring snagged the win, pitching four of the six innings. 


The offense was even better than in game one, tallying eight hits, including seven singles and one double. The War Eagles were also patient at the plate, drawing a whopping 10 walks and striking out only four times. They were just as aggressive on the base paths, stealing all 12 bases they attempted. 


Caleb Helle was a team leader, going 2-3 with three stolen bases, one run scored and two RBIs, while Loan went 2-4 with two stolen bases, three runs scored and three RBIs. Elliot Kelly went 1-2 with two stolen bases, one run scored and two RBI, and Ludovissy went 2-2 with two stolen bases and three runs scored. 


“We expected to get two wins coming into the night and did just that. We got good outings from CJ Polkinghorn and Max Nuehring on the mound. Our offense took advantage on the base paths and stole a total of 24 bases. We also played pretty well defensively, committing just three errors on the night,” said coach Zach Mueller. 


The winning continued on June 29 against Sumner-Fredericksburg, in a game that began on June 25 but was postponed in the second inning due to rain. When the game resumed, the War Eagles had a tenuous 3-2 lead, which lasted until the bottom of the seventh, when the Cougars tied the game. The teams battled deep into extra innings before Ostrander came through with a three-RBI double in the 10th inning, leading the War Eagles to a 6-3 victory. 


The game started with Caleb Helle on the mound before the rainout, and he gave up one hit, two earned runs and two walks in one inning. When the game resumed, it was Loan on the rubber. He pitched a solid five and one-third innings, giving up just two hits, one earned run and two walks, while striking out five. 


As the game headed to extras, the War Eagles turned the ball over to Brandon Thiese, who finished the last three and two-thirds innings, giving up three hits and three walks, but no runs, shutting down a decent Cougars lineup. 


All three pitchers were aided by a defense that finished with just one error.


Offensively, CR/C again brought pressure on the base paths, stealing five on six attempts, helping lead to six Cougar errors and three runs. The offense was led by Ostrander, who went 3-6 with two stolen bases, one run scored and three RBI. Caleb Helle went 2-5 with two stolen bases and two runs scored, and Thiese who went 2-5 with an RBI. 


“We resumed play expecting a high scoring affair, but both teams’ pitchers and defenses settled in. Hazen Loan and Brandon Thiese did a great job of keeping their hitters off balance all night, only allowing five hits in nine innings of work,” said Mueller. “Our offense put together hits all night, 15 total, but was unable to scratch any runs across until the top of the 10th. Hazen Loan and Kurt Ross got things going with singles, followed by an intentional walk to Caleb Helle before Drake Ostrander’s game winning hit.”


The final win of the week was the hardest for the War Eagles, as North Fayette Valley kept clawing back into the game. CR/C scored a quick two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but the TigerHawks responded with a run in the top of the third. The War Eagles extended the lead with another two runs in the third inning, but, again, the TigerHawks answered, this time by tying the game with a three-run fourth. No strangers to late game heroics, the War Eagles capped the victory with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning and the pitching held onto the lead from that point. 


On the mound was the duo of Caleb and Caden Helle. Caden got the start, allowing five hits, four runs, two of which were earned, and four walks over six innings. He also struck out four TigerHawks. Caleb entered in the final inning to secure the victory. 


The offense stole four bases, while managing six hits, including five singles and one triple. Ostrander went 2-3 with two stolen bases and two runs scored, Caleb Helle went 1-3 with a stolen base and a run scored and Caden Helle went 1-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Kelly was 1-3 with an RBI.


“We split with NFV the last time around, so we knew we would likely have another competitive game. The Helles did a nice job for us on the mound of throwing strikes and allowing our defense to work. We had one misplay in the fourth that allowed two runs for them to tie it up, but our offense was able to get one more run in the fifth that ended up being the difference in the ballgame. We made a nice double play to end the night and give us our fourth win of the week,” Mueller said. 


The War Eagles ended the long week on July 2, with their only loss, a 7-2 defeat at the hands of New Hampton. 


Defensive miscues allowed four Chickasaw runs to cross the plate, spoiling solid pitching outings by Caleb Helle, Thiese and Polkinghorn. Together, the trio held the Chickasaws to just seven hits, three earned runs and two walks, while striking out nine batters.  


The CR/C offense attempted two stolen bases in the game, letting the Chickasaw pitchers pick apart the lineup for seven strikeouts. In 26 at bats, the War Eagles managed just five singles. 


Standouts were Loan, who went 2-3 with two hits and one RBI, and Caden Helle, who was 1-3 with a stolen base. 


“We expected a tough battle coming into the night in a well coached New Hampton team. Our pitchers battled, but we had a couple of defensive miscues that led to extra runs and our offense didn’t get going enough to give us a chance to win,” Mueller said. 


The War Eagles look to return to winning ways with a six game slate this week, including the Class 2A Substate 5 first round game on July 10, at Anamosa Middle School. They’ll take on the 19-5 Anamosa Blue Raiders at 7 p.m. 


But before they get to that game, they first have a doubleheader at MFL MarMac Bulldogs on July 5, then travel to Edgewood-Colesburg on July 6 and Jesup on July 7. The last game before the postseason is also on the road, as CR/C plays Monticello on July 8. 

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