For the third consecutive week this season, South Tama's varsity baseball team had a .500 record or better.
Despite dropping their first two games of the week to East Marshall, the Trojans dug in and won both contests Saturday to even its record for the week. The Trojans (11-9) won their two games at the Green Mountain-Garwin four-team tournament and finished the week with a 3-3 record.
"There are only three weeks left," head coach Seth Koch said. "We need to be playing our best ball. We haven't had a losing week. We were 3-3 this week, but we've had more wins than losses every other week."
South Tama’s Sam Kuhter hits a double during the third inning of Saturday’s GMG Tournment championship game. STC beat Colo-NESCO 14-4 for the tourney title, after beating host GMG in the morning game.
South Tama racked up 22 runs during its pair of wins Saturday in Green Mountain. STC battled a slow start in the championship game after easily beating its opening opponent in the morning.
After beating the host Wolverines in the morning game, STC faced Colo-NESCO in the title game. The Trojans fell behind early, but shut down the Royals during the final XX innings as they won 14-4.
C-N took an early lead in Saturday's championship game. It's lead-off batter reached first on a single, second on a passed ball and third on a stolen base. A sacrifice fly later, the Royals led 1-0.
The Royals added one more run in the second, third and fourth innings, keeping its lead through the first three innings. The runner who scored in the second inning reached first on an error and scored on an RBI single. The batters who scored in the third and fourth innings also reached on errors.
"In practice yesterday, we talked about pitching, defense and offense," Koch said. "I asked them which is the toughest and they said hitting. I asked which is the easiest to fix and they said defense. Then I said, 'that's what we have to fix.' Granted, the ball took a couple of funny hops today, but we have to be better."
South Tama's offense scored in every inning but the first. STC loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with Kolton Smith, Chase Schuett and Noah Bearden on first, second and third. However, a strikeout left the Trojans stranded.
In the second inning, Dalton Doyle earned a walk to reach first. Smith hit him home later in the inning to get STC on the scoreboard. The Trojans added two more in the third to tie the score. Tank Keckler and Bearden scored on a two-run RBI single from Grant Koch. Sam Kuhter hit a double later in the inning and reached third on a stolen base, but didn't get help to reach home.
"Again, we started slow," Koch said. "We can't afford to start slow this late in the year. Nate Hala threw three good innings. He gives up three runs, but all were unearned. We drop a ball at second, we drop a ball at second and a ball gets through at third. Defensively, we weren't very sharp at all. Fortunately, on offense, we took advantage of some walks and a couple errors on their part. We had a few hard-hit balls and we came out on top."
South Tama took control of the game in the fourth inning when it scored four runs. STC added two more in the fifth and four again in the sixth, before one final run in the seventh inning.
STC compiled 15 hits in beating Colo-NESCO in the title game. Schuett was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Koch, Kuhter, Doyle and Kaleb Davenport had two hits apiece. Koch drove in four runs while Doyle and Davenport scored three times apiece.
"We had a big hit to drive in two runs when we had runners on second and third," Koch said. "That was big. Sam Kuhter hit the ball hard in that inning to drive home another run. We have some guys that are starting to hit the ball hard again and it's that time of the year where we have to hit it hard."
Nate Hala pitched three innings for the win, walking three and striking out three from the mound for South Tama. Clay Waterbury came in and relieved Hala with three innings of work.
"We did a nice job on the mound again," Koch said. "One thing we told the kids is that we've been pretty steady on the mound. Chase went out in the first game and gave up one run. He struck out only one, but he walked only two batters and that's the key thing. Fortunately, we put enough runs on the board to win it. You could tell we weren't used to playing at 9:30 a.m., but give the kids credit for getting the win."
The Trojans beat host GMG 8-1 in the opener. Schuett pitched all six innings against GMG in the first round, allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Koch finished 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
South Tama has a busy week as it traveled to South Hardin on Monday and hosted BCLUW on Tuesday. On Wednesday, STC plays Newton at home, before traveling to State Center to play West Marshall on Thursday.
"If the kids could finish 10-4 in the conference, I think that would put them in the top three," Koch said of his team, which is 7-4 in the NICL West. "I think the kids would be happy with that and I know I'd be happy with that. That means we have to go out and take care of business this week."