South Tama's baseball team nearly pulled off an incredible comeback at home Tuesday night.
The Trojans were one hit away from rallying from down four runs in the final inning. Their comeback kept the game alive for three more innings, but inability to score another run doomed the Trojans. They lost 9-6 to BCLUW.
"It's one of those things where you learn a lot about your ballclub," head coach Seth Koch said. "We learned a lot about the kids that want to compete and the ones that are mentally tough, while finding out the kids that need to work on their mental toughness a bit. We kind of found that out tonight.
South Tama’s Jacob Clark, center, stands up after touching home plate and avoiding the tag from the BCLUW catcher Tuesday evening. Clark’s run gave STC a 2-0 lead early in the game. South Tama lost the game 9-6 in 10 innings.
"You have to give BCLUW credit," he said. "We kind of hard our way with them up there at their place. We came back and knew it was going to be tough. They went out and decided they were going to compete. They put up a crooked number in the sixth inning. Fortunately, we bounced back, made some things happen and tied it back up. We had plenty of opportunities to win in the seventh, eighth and ninth, but came up a little short."
South Tama led 2-1 through five innings after it scored twice early in the contest. Kolton Smith led off the Trojans' offense with a walk. After an out, Chase Schuett stole second as BCLUW's throw was wild, allowing Smith to score and giving STC a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Jacob Clark reached base on a walk. He stole second base before Schuett hit an RBI single, scoring Clark from second base. STC was looking in control as Sam Kuhter kept the Comets from producing much offense.
Kuhter struck out six batters during the first two innings. BCLUW did load the bases on a hit and two walks, but Kuhter struck out the next batter in the opening inning. He faced only seven batters in the third and fourth innings. In the fifth inning, BCLUW reached base on a walk and the runner later scored on an error. Kuhter responded by striking the final two batters out.
"Sam was on top," Koch said. "Sam just ran out of gas. We couldn't have asked Sam to do anything more than he did. I thought Grant came in and did a nice job. He asked for the ball. We had to make a change in a tough situation and Grant said he wanted the baseball. He goes out and pitches out of a jam. He got out of jams in the eighth and ninth innings and those were the innings we needed to win the ballgame."
BCLUW took over the game in the sixth inning. The Comets' lead-off batter hit a single. After a sacrifice bunt, the Comets' offense came alive. They were walked twice, hit a double and two singles as they scored five runs in the inning. STC's Tank Keckler took over pitching duties for Kuhter during the inning.
With their back against the wall, the Trojans showed tremendous patience at the plate as the BCLUW pitchers walked the bases loaded. Two more walks and two hit batters later, the Trojans tied the game, 6-6, without even making a hit.
"We kind of fell apart defensively and let it get away from us," Koch said. "It was 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh and we start taking some pitches. We got a walk and a couple of guys get hit. Next thing you know, we score four runs and I don't think we hit a ball out of the infield."
South Tama loaded the bases in the eighth inning with the top of its lineup. However, they would be stranded as there was already two outs. A hard-hit groundball was fielded and thrown to second for the final out.
BCLUW scored three runs in the top of the tenth inning after an STC error. Those runs proved costly as STC couldn't muster any runs, despite Smith and Clark starting the inning with walks.
"Our bats were quiet tonight," Koch said. "We just didn't hit. That's going to happen. Last night, at Eldora, we hit the ball really well. That's the way this game works. We're still a young ball club. For us, being as young as we are, we will learn from it."
On Monday night, South Tama traveled to Eldora and beat South Hardin 8-4. STC scored four times in the first inning and three more in the second. The Trojans added one more in the third inning before going silent for the final four innings. However, it was enough to get the road victory.
Grant Koch had four hits while Ian Slagle had two for South Tama. Koch and Clark each scored two runs.
"We came out very strong Monday night," Koch said. "We score eight in the first three innings. We started Jake Clark on the mound as we're trying to get him back into the rotation. He threw three solid innings. Then Kolton Smith came in and threw four really solid innings. Ian Slagle got us going at the plate. He got another big hit in the second inning."
On Sunday, South Tama will be playing at Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the minor league team, in Cedar Rapids. The Trojans will play Charles City at 1 p.m. They will be back home Monday to host Wapsie Valley.