South Tama's baseball team overcame a slow start and defense troubles to win its final home game Monday.
The Trojans fell behind 1-0 early, later fell behind 3-2 and nearly allowed a comeback in the final inning. But, the Trojans rallied in the fourth inning and closed the door with the final two batters as they beat Wapsie Valley 6-5 on their Senior Night.
"It's nice to get a win," head coach Seth Koch said. "A record of 14-12 sounds better than 13-13."
South Tama’s Dalton Doyle, left, and Sam Kuhter slap hands after each of them scored on the same play. Kolton Smith hit a two-run single, scoring Doyle and Kuhter. South Tama beat Wapsie Valley 6-5 on Monday night.
Koch and his players were happy to get the win Monday, a day after the Trojans lost, 11-3, to Charles City in Cedar Rapids. It was also the home contest for seniors Jacob Clark and Chase Schuett.
"It was nice to come back and get a win tonight," Koch said. "We started slow again. I think the heat is getting to us a bit and we're having trouble getting acclimated to that. We told the kids they have to get over that and play, because it's the same for both teams and it's going to be that way for the rest of the week."
Wapsie Valley took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Warriors leadoff batter reached first on an error. He later stole second and scored on another error.
South Tama responded in the bottom half of the inning. Clark and Schuett reached base with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Clark later stole second and Schuett stole third. Both STC seniors scored in the inning. Noah Bearden hit a sacrifice bunt, allowing one of the runs.
Wapsie Valley also rallied in the second and third innings. The Warriors scored one run in each inning. In the second, the Warriors hit a two-out double and scored on an RBI single. The third inning's leadoff batter hit a single to reach base. He scored on a fielder's choice later in the inning. The Warriors led 3-2 after three innings.
"We didn't play well defensively," Koch said. "We need to get better that way."
The Trojans' offense came alive in the fourth inning. Tank Keckler, Sam Kuhter and Dalton Doyle led the inning by reaching base on a walk, error and single. Doyle's single scored Keckler, tying the game at 3-3. Later in the inning, Kolton Smith hit a two-run single, scoring Kuhter and Doyle and giving STC a 5-3 lead.
"I told them, 'We hadn't taken a good swing all night,'" Koch said. "They pitched their No. 1 guy, so give them some credit. He threw the ball well and put it across the plate, but we just didn't have a very good approach. Hopefully, we can get that fixed before our next game."
South Tama scored one more run in the fifth inning. Grant Koch hit a single and later scored on an RBI from Doyle. STC led 6-3 heading into the final two innings.
"Dalton Doyle got a couple of big hits when we needed them," coach Koch said. "He drove in a couple runs when things were tight."
The Trojans shut down Wapsie Valley in the sixth inning. However, the Warriors rallied in the seventh inning. Their first batter struck out. Then the No. 1 batter reached first on an error and moved around the bases on another error.
The Warriors hit a single before earning their second out. The following batter hit a two-run double, closing the Trojans' lead to one run. STC finished the game with the next batter, who hit a groundball that was fielded and thrown to first base for the out.
Kuhter pitched six innings for the Trojans. Keckler came in for one inning of relief. Kuhter struck out five batters on the night.
"I thought Sam did a great job on the mound," coach Koch said. "He gave us his normal outing. Tank came in and closed the door when we needed him to in the last inning."
On Sunday, South Tama traveled to Cedar Rapids to play Charles City in Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the minor league Cedar Rapids Kernels. South Tama lost the game 11-3.
"Yesterday was kind of a tough one," coach Koch said Monday night. "We tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth and then we struggled a bit on the mound and they put up a crooked number in the bottom half of the inning. Then they put up another crooked number when we kicked it around in the sixth. It was a tough one from that respect."
Seven Trojan's pitched during the game. Their coach wanted many of the Trojans to play in the stadium.
"We threw everybody an inning," Koch said. "Sam started, because that's what Sam is used to doing. Some of the other guys have made relief appearances. I wanted to give all of our varsity pitchers to throw in the stadium. I thought that was the right thing to do."
South Tama's next game will be Thursday night at Newton. STC will play Tuesday at Ballard. Both games start at 7:30 p.m. South Tama's district contest will at 7 p.m. July 13 in Vinton against Vinton-Shellsburg.