Lions stumble, but regain footing later in week
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:56
The streak, along with the number one ranking in Class 3A, is over for the Clear Lake baseball team. The Lions dropped two games last week, but began contributing to their win column again Friday with an 8-1 decision over Algona. The Lions, who are now ranked second in 3A,
now have a record of 22-3; they are 10-1 in the North Central Conference.
CL 5, Mason City 3
Sophomore Brandon Tofte held Mason City to five hits and the Lions took advantage of four Mason City errors to post a 5-3 victory over the Mohawks Tuesday, June 25.
“I feel we have developed a good rivalry with Mason City over the last four years, with each team defending their home field advantage each year, so to pick up a win on their field was fun to see and any win we can get against 4A competition is a big one,” said Coach Seth Thompson.
It was the second win against Mason City competition for Tofte, who earlier this season picked up a win over Class 1A number one ranked Newman. Against the Mohawks, Tofte pitched five innings, striking out two and walking one.
“Our defense kind of fell asleep on him in the fifth inning, but luckily we did what we had to as a team out there to get a big win and push our winning streak to 20 games. Any team can really beat any team on any given night in high school baseball, so for these kids to win 20 games in a row is a pretty amazing feat, especially considering how little varsity experience most of these kids had entering the season and how young they are as a team,” added Thompson.
The Lions put two runs on the board in the first inning, helped by Mohawk errors. Gavin Sheakley reached base on an error and Luke Schiller followed with a walk. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Brock Adams, an infield single by Mitch Keeran and a hit by Matt Stephany scored the runs.
The Lions added another run in the third after Sheakley again reached base on an error. A base hit by Keeran scored the run.
Two more runs by the Lions in the fifth had the team firmly in control, 5-0. This time Sheakley had a hit and advanced on a bunt single by Schiller. Another Mason City error moved the runners and a hit by Rowdy Yates scored the runs.
In the bottom of the fifth the Mohawks began to apply some pressure. A walk was followed by an error, and after a fielder’s choice was executed, another error gave the Mohawks life. They pushed three runs across, helped by three Lion errors.
Sheakley came in to pitch the final two innings and effectively shut Mason City out. He picked up the save with two strikeouts.
Humboldt 6, CL 2
Humboldt came to town on a mission Wednesday night and avenged their conference loss to the league-leading Lions, 6-2.
“On this particular night Humboldt played outstanding and deserved to beat us,” said Coach Thompson. “They swung the bats extremely well up and down their lineup and their pitcher showed why he is probably the best pitcher not on our roster in the entire conference. When you throw that hard and can locate both your fastball and curve ball, it makes a batter’s job pretty tough and we struggled to put together good at bats all night.”
The Wildcats jumped on Jerry Kockler for five runs in the third inning and added another in the fourth. The loss stopped Kockler’s streak of 18 wins, dating back to his junior season. He was 6-0 this season before the outing. Humboldt got seven hits off Kockler. He walked two and struck out five.
Humboldt’s ace, Ben Jacobson, held the Lions to just four hits and struck out 10.
Brock Adams, Mitch Keeran, Matt Stephany and Brandon Tofte, all sophomores, were the only Lions to reach base on hits. It was Adams’ hit which scored Clear Lake’s two runs in the third.
“When you go a month without losing, a game like this can be tough to deal with, but I told the kids after the game that they are still on top of their conference and I am sure the other team wouldn’t hesitate to trade this win to be sitting where the Lions are sitting right now,” said Coach Thompson.
The win lifted Humboldt to 8-4 in the North Central Conference. Clear Lake remained atop the league at 9-1.
Central Springs 12, CL 11
The Lions found themselves on the short end of a wild non-conference game with Central Springs Thursday, June 27. The Panthers scored two in the sixth to come away with a 12-11 victory.
“I doubt either team walked away from the night feeling like they had played a good night of baseball, but both teams can’t lose so I guess they were a little less ugly than us,” said Coach Thompson. “Winning in baseball a lot of times comes down who gets a break here or there, and I think we saw about 20 games of good breaks during our winning streak even out in this one game. After a game like this you are glad that you have a game the next day to get this one off your mental plate. To their credit they swung the bats very well and their pitcher that came in relief did a nice job of challenging our hitters and getting his off-speed over for strikes, which we struggled to do all night.”
The Lions pounded out 16 hits, led by Luke Schiller and Brock Adams with three apiece. Mitch Keeran, Matt Stephany, Pete Swenson and Brandon Tofte each had two hits. Stephany’s double was the only extra base hit for the Lions.
Brock Adams took the loss for the team. He came in after Schiller pitched three and Parker Truesdell threw two and two-thirds. Central Springs got two hits and two unearned runs with Adams on the mound. He struck out two and walked one.
Clear Lake jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning and added two more in the second. Central Springs scored one in the second and two in the third to close the margin to 6-3.
Four more runs by the Lions in the fourth had Clear Lake in control, but Central Springs clawed back with two in the fourth and five in the fifth. The Lions were leading 11-10 after five, but the Panthers plated two in the sixth and held the Lions scoreless in the seventh for the win.
CL 8, Algona 1
The Lions roared back from two losses with a big conference win over Algona Friday, June 28. They dominated in an 8-1 win.
“I was proud of how our kids responded to two tough games the previous two nights to come out with a big conference win to keep our position as leaders in the NCC,” said Coach Seth Thompson.
Ace Gavin Sheakley was sharp through seven innings. The senior struck out seven and walked two. Algona had just three hits in the game.
“Our offense did a nice job of making his (Sheakley’s) job easier with a two-run first and a five-run second inning. What was great to see in the second inning was us getting all five runs after they had two outs and we had no runners on base,” added the coach.
The Lions strung together three straight hits, mixed in a walk, and then Keeran hit an opposite field three-run blast to take any wind Algona had in their sails away. Keeran also made a terrific play in right field in the fourth inning to record a very rare 9-3 (right field to first base) put-out.
Sheakley paced the team with four hits, including a double. Keeran had three hits and five RBIs.