Meeting for the second time this season on Monday June 23 were the South Tama Trojans and the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels. Their first meeting didn't bode well for the Trojans as they fell 1-8 on Thursday June 5. But this time the Trojans had a little pep in their step as they were coming into the week with a four game winning streak. The Trojans found victories last week against South Hardin, Vinton-Shellsburg and North Tama.
Mondays are typically double headers for the Trojans and this was no exception. Pitching for the Trojans in the opening game was Dalton Doyle with Kolton Smith catching. Sophomore Cameron Murphy got the start for the Rebels.
While the Trojans started the game on offense, this was a true defensive battle from the very beginning of the game. The top of the Trojan order was Kolton Smith who was hit by Murphy's third pitch. Smith had his eye on the prize and stole second while Colson Frakes was at bat. Frakes flew out to Murphy on the third pitch while Smith advanced on to third on the throw. Murphy then walked Grant Koch. Doyle was up next for the Trojans and popped up to Murphy on the first pitch while Koch was picked off at second bringing up the bottom of the first inning.
Mitch Thede throws to first for an assist in an out at the Rebel’s home field on Monday June 23.
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham
The pressure was on the defense to make a stop, which they did. Doyle walked the first two Rebels up to bat, Camden Kickbush and pitcher Murphy. In a head's up defensive play, Doyle picked off Kickbush at first for the first out. Catcher Bryce Ehlers struck out swinging. Phillip Zimmerman then hit a line drive for a single as Murphy advanced to second. The third out came from Logan Flamme who grounded out to third baseman Mitch Thede.
This was pretty much the story of the first game, three up and three down for both teams. At the plate, the Trojans were able to put the bat on the ball but suffered from some bad luck and good pitching as several balls put in play went straight into the Rebel's gloves. Defensively both teams had some great stops.
To give some perspective on just how important the defense was, basic math would show that if both teams played all seven innings the pitching staff would see a minimum of 21 batters. Monday's matchup was not too far off that mark as Doyle pitched to just 23 batters while Murphy threw to 24.
The Rebels scored the lone run in the game in the bottom of the second inning. Joe Smoldt set things up for the Rebels with a ground ball single. Smoldt advanced to third after Josh Cooley hit a fly ball into the outfield for a double. Smoldt scored as Jeff Tscherter was credited with an RBI after hitting a line drive for a single. With Cooley on third, Brady Kuehl then hit a sharp line drive towards third base that Thede grabbed for an out. With some quick thinking, Thede was able to snag the out on Kuehl, tag Cooley out at third, and catch Tscherter, who failed to tag up on Kuehl's out, with a throw to first for a triple play.
The game ended with STC down 0-1 but the tides were about to turn, as the Trojans were not satisfied with the outcome of the first game.
The Trojans started strong in the second game with two runs scored in the first inning and one more in the third. The Rebels scored a run in both the fifth and sixth innings. This game was again close but this time the Trojans came out on top with a final score of 3-2.
Doyle, who pitched a great first game, was ready to get his bat swinging in the second game. Doyle was up to bat three times for the Trojans earning two runs with one of those being his first career homerun.
Cody Kellogg, who has been leading the Trojan's pitching staff with four wins, 45 strikeouts, and an ERA of 1.07, took the mound in the second game. Monday's game was highlight for the sophomore as he allowed only one earned run while striking out thirteen Rebel batters. Kellogg's thirteen strikeouts currently lead the NICL West this season. Also, the only STC pitcher to top that mark in the last four years is Sam Kuhter who pitched 16 strikeouts against West Marshall last season. It was a great accomplishment for Kellogg and the Trojans.
This was a critical conference victory for the Trojans as Gladbrook-Reinbeck has been hanging onto the second spot in the NICL West with a record of 12-4, right behind East Marshall who is 18-5. As of Monday, the Trojans were in the fourth spot with a record of 9-9.