War Eagles finish final week of the season 1-5, lose playoff opener

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Shortstop Caleb Helle throws to first base during the War Eagles’ July 5 doubleheader at MFL MarMac. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Drake Ostrander had three of the team’s five hits in game two of a doubleheader at MFL MarMac, but was unable to score.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Clayton Ridge/Central War Eagles endured a difficult final week of the season, winning just one game in their final six and being ousted from the playoffs on July 10, after a 10-0 loss to Anamosa. 


The final week of the season began July 5, with a doubleheader at MFL MarMac. The Bulldogs pitched a no-hitter in game one, winning 10-0. The War Eagles sent 16 batters to the plate, coming away with just one walk. 


Defensively, CR/C committed four errors and allowed five stolen bases, as both Caden Helle and CJ Polkinghorn were unable to stop the Bulldog offense. While the pair only gave up four hits, one of them was a homerun, and they issued five walks and hit one batter, providing free passes to the bases. 


In game two, the War Eagles fared much better statistically, stringing together five hits, but couldn’t get a runner across home plate, as the Bulldogs won 4-0. 


Drake Ostrander led the offense with three of the five hits, while Caden Helle and Brandon Thiese added the other two. 


The defense also cut down on errors, committing just one, while Hazen Loan pitched a six-inning complete game. Loan held the Bulldogs to five hits and three earned runs, while striking out six. 


On July 6, the War Eagles lost a close game to Edgewood-Colesburg. CR/C held a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Vikings scored the game-winning runs. 


The offense put up six hits, making each one count. Ostrander again led the team, going 2-4 with one RBI, two stolen bases and two runs scored, while Elliot Kelly went 1-3 with two RBIs. Thiese made the most of his lone at-bat, hitting a single, which dropped for an RBI. 


On the mound, Ostrander and Thiese did what they could to keep the game close and give the offense a chance, but two defensive errors led to three runs for the Vikings. Ostrander pitched two innings, allowing just three hits, two earned runs and one walk, while striking out two. Thiese allowed five hits and one earned run, while striking out nine. 


The War Eagles followed the close loss with an 11-0 defeat against the Jesup J-Hawks. CR/C managed just one hit in the game, a double provided by Caden Helle, and struck out five times. 


The War Eagles defense was plagued by errors, committing four, and allowed all five stolen bases the J-Hawks attempted. The errors led to four of the J-Hawks’ runs. 


Caden Helle took the ball for the War Eagles, pitching four innings, through which he allowed eight hits, seven walks and seven earned runs. 


The War Eagles’ final win of the season came on July 8, in a thriller, as they held off a determined rally by Monticello. CR/C seemingly had the game in hand, taking a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Panthers scored five runs before the War Eagles managed to end the rally and earn a 7-6 victory. 


The offense put together a solid outing, coming through with eight hits while striking out just five times. Ostrander was 2-4 with one single, one double and one RBI. Caleb Helle went 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Thiese went 1-3 with two RBIs. Kelly and William Spielbauer each had an RBI as well. 


The defense also performed well, committing no errors and allowing just one stolen base on two attempts. 


On the mound, Polkinghorn pitched a complete game, holding the Panthers to six hits while striking out five.


The final game for the War Eagles was in the playoffs against the Blue Raiders. CR/C was held hitless for the second time in six games, as the offense sent 18 batters to the plate and struck out six times. 


Defensively, the War Eagles committed six errors, which led to six Blue Raider runs and made it tough for the trio of War Eagles pitchers, Caden Helle, Thiese and Loan, to keep the team in the game. The three pitchers gave up a combined six hits and four earned runs. 


The loss capped a season in which the War Eagles finished 10-22 overall and 7-11 in the Upper Iowa Conference, which was good enough for fifth place. The War Eagles also won double digit games for the first time since the 2017/2018 season, improving six games over last year.


During the season, CR/C struggled at the plate, hitting .229 as a team, and only Ostrander had an average above .300. The stats also included 91 RBIs, 125 runs scored, 181 hits, six home runs and 211 strikeouts, which was third worst in the conference. 


The War Eagles were also plagued by errors, committing 84, and they allowed 108 stolen bases, throwing out runners on just 11 attempts. 


On the mound, the War Eagles pitchers put together a solid effort, holding opponents to a .277 batting average and finishing with a 5.88 ERA. In total, the staff gave up 215 hits, 227 runs—of which 159 were earned— and 138 walks, while striking out 153 batters. 


Some notable players this season included Ostrander, who finished with 40 hits, 23 runs scored, nine RBIs, one home run and 17 stolen bases, along with a team leading .385 batting average. Caleb Helle finished second in batting average at .242. He also had 24 hits, 20 runs scored, 14 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Caden Helle had 21 hits, 13 runs scored, five doubles, four home runs, 16 RBIs, and a .231 batting average, while Thiese finished the season with 19 hits, four doubles, 13 RBIs, eight runs scored and a .235 batting average. 


The CR/C pitching staff was led by Caden Helle, who finished with a 5-2 record and 30 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .203 batting average. He ended the season with a 3.84 ERA. Loan led the team in ERA with a 3.80, going 1-5 with 27 strikeouts, while Thiese went 1-4 with 29 strikeouts and a 5.19 ERA. 


The War Eagles head into the offseason with a roster that should remain fairly intact, losing only seniors Loan and Polkinghorn. The sophomore heavy roster looks to use the offseason to improve on defense, make adjustments at the plate and be competitive. 

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