Trojans sneak by HLV, end regular season on five game skid

Noah Rohlfing and Darvin Graham

South Tama ended its week with a win against HLV Wednesday and a doubleheader defeat to Benton Community Thursday.

The Trojans (10-21) went down early against the Warriors, trailing 9-0 after the first two innings of play. In the bottom of the third inning, junior Kyler Smith took the mound for STC in a relief role. He went on to hold the Warriors to three runs the rest of the game (zero runs earned) and struck out seven batters, keeping STC in the game while its offense struggled to get going.

“A very strange baseball game to say the least,” Head Coach Seth Koch said. “We fell behind after the 2nd inning and it would have been easy for us to just roll over and quit. Fortunately, we got some great performances from players off the bench to rally and come away with the win.”

The bats finally woke up in the fourth inning with four runs scored. The sixth brought seven more runs, putting the Trojans up 11-10. After HLV grabbed two in the top of the seventh inning, the Trojans scored two to walk off with a win.

“The seven run 6th inning was the turning point. Ryne Kesl, Nolan Upah, Eric Henry, Gavin Bridgewater, and Kyler Smith all a hit and an RBI during the inning to put us in front for the first time,” Koch said. “It was one of those games where it was more important to be on the field at the end of the game instead of being in the starting lineup. Could not have been prouder of the nine players on the field for us at the end of the game. They did a great job both offensively and defensively to earn the win for us.”

Leading the way at the plate was Smith, who had three hits, two RBIs and two doubles. Daniel Wiese had two RBIs as well. Gavin Jimenez had two hits and scored two runs.

Thursday’s doubleheader with Benton Community did not go as well. In game one, the Trojans were shelled 9-1 by the Bobcats. Lane Lekin gave up nine runs on eight hits, walked five and struck out three. He also drove in the only STC run of the game, scored by Brayden Smith.

Game two went even worse, as the Trojans were beaten 12-1 in five innings. Benton Community collected 13 hits, while STC had only three — one each from Jordan Bly, Brayden Smith and Jacob Collison. Bly drove in the only Trojan run of the game, scored by Kyler Smith.

As the end of the season drew near, things started to fall downward for the South Tama as were swept by WaMaC East leading Marion on Monday and defeated 9-6 by Newton on Tuesday.

In game one against Marion, South Tama mounted a comeback after trailing 7-0 going into the sixth. Two runs were plated in the sixth and one in the seventh, but Marion held on for a 7-3 victory.

Jacob Collison pitched the loss for STC, throwing two innings and allowing six runs (four earned). Daniel Wiese closed out the final four innings, striking out two with one run earned.

Kyler Smith led South Tama at the plate with two singles. Mickey Wanatee chipped in a two-run single to get the scoring going late in the game.

Game two was a 10-0 shutout with Ryne Kesl taking the loss from the mound in shortened outing.

Freshman Payton Hodges got the win for Marion striking out five Trojan batters and allowing six hits and no walks.

Logan Arp, Kyler Smith, Jordan Bly, Brayden Smith, Matt Wiese and Gavin Jimenez recorded singles for the Trojans.

Against Newton, South Tama again played from behind. The Trojans allowed five runs in the first inning and didn’t get their bats going until the fourth.

Kyler Smith was again effective at the plate, hitting 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Jordan Bly and Matt Wiese also had multiple hits, while Brayden Smith chipped in a run-scoring triple to round out STC’s extra base hits.

South Tama briefly took the lead 6-5 after scoring two runs in the top of the fifth and holding Newton scoreless headed into the sixth.

However, Newton would plate four more runs in the sixth and South Tama did not have an answer, ending their regular season with a 9-6 loss.

Lane Lekin started and pitched five and two thirds innings, striking out three while allowing nine runs (eight earned) and four walks. Draysen Henle finished out the game on the mound.

South Tama will travel to North Polk on July 16 for the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs. The Comets and the Trojans have not met on the baseball field for quite some time, with no encounters throughout the past decade.

North Polk is the two seed in the Substate 6 bracket opposite Marion. The winner of the game Friday will face either Ballard or Benton Community on Monday, July 19.