The rival series between the Grinnell Tigers and the South Tama Trojans baseball teams came to a close for the season on Friday July 11. The Trojans and the Tigers faced off earlier in the season with Grinnell coming out ahead in a 9-3 victory. The baseball rivalry has been a lopsided affair in recent years with the Tigers winning in each of their last nine encounters. Though the Trojans fell short in getting the win, Friday's matchup was well played and competitive down to the last batter.
Sophomore Colson Frakes got the start against the Tigers on Friday and continued his run of solid outings on the mound. Frakes' last appearance was a one hit shutout of the Grundy Center Spartans on July 3. As a control specialist Frakes leads the Trojan staff with 0.43 walks per innings pitched. Starting for the Tigers was senior Brody Beck. In the two team's previous meeting Beck was also the starting pitcher and turned in a respectable five hit, one run performance. This was also not the first time Frakes has faced the Tigers as he pitched two innings in relief of (then senior) Clay Waterbury during a home game last season.
With Beck quickly retiring the Trojan side in the first, the Tiger bats got things going early in the first. Number two hitter Ethan Mitchell hit for a single and was followed by first baseman Eli Dunne who got on with a double. The Tigers now had two runners in scoring position for senior shortstop Joe Schmidt. Frakes would force Schmidt into a ground out but not before allowing Mitchell to cross home plate for the Tigers first run. The Trojans quickly got out of the inning as the next batter, Garrett Jay, hit a pop up out.
Colson Frakes throws out a pitch against the Grinnell Tigers on Friday July 11 in Grinnell.
News Herald Photo/Darvin Graham
In the second and third innings the Trojans challenged the Tiger defense by getting runners on base but were unable to convert any into runs scored. Frakes tightened things down on the defensive end and allowed only one hit across both innings while striking out two.
In the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs the Tigers squeaked through a crack in the Trojan defense and scored their second run of the game. Beck was moved to first after being walked and was followed by left fielder Scott Burnell who blasted a double into deep left field. Burnell's double was enough to advance Luke Rodabush (courtesy running for Beck) into score and the Tigers took a 2-0 lead. Frakes responded and forced the next batter, Mason Doty, into a ground out that would leave Burnell stranded at second.
Starting catcher Kolton Smith got his bat going in the fifth as he laced a pitch from Beck into the outfield for a double. Smith made it around to third after a ground out by Frakes but was left on the bases after Grant Koch hit into another ground out to end the inning. In the bottom of the fifth Grinnell was again knocking at the door as they put two runners on base (Mitchell and Dunne) with two outs. Frakes hung tough though and struck out the next batter, Schmidt, to get out of the jam.
After a scoreless sixth inning the Trojans were left with one final chance to even the score. Facing two outs Blake Keller used his speed and legged out a ground ball to reach first safely. With Smith bringing up the top of the order the Trojans crossed their fingers for a late inning rally, but Beck and the Tiger defense would take a hold of the Trojan advance as Smith popped out to third to end the game. The final score of Friday's matchup was 2-0 in favor of the Tigers.
While there were a few key hits on both teams, the night was truly given to two outstanding pitching performances. Frakes took the loss for the Trojans but should have little to hang his head about as held a veteran lineup in check for nearly the whole game. Beck took his season record to 3-1 as he got the win with a five hit shutout gem. This was the Tiger's second straight shutout performance as fellow senior Eli Dunne had a nearly identical outing the night before.
The Trojans will wrap up their season with a double header at home against the Clear Creek-Amana Clippers followed by an away game against the Newton Cardinals. Monday's matchup against Clear Creek-Amana will be a preview of the Trojan's regional playoff matchup as they are scheduled to face the Clippers at 5:00 p.m. Friday July 18 in Williamsburg.