The wind blowing out at Shawn Williams Field had the same effect as a deep breath into a balloon - instant inflation.
The Marshalltown Community College baseball team hit seven home runs over its doubleheader with Kirkwood Community College, winning the first contest, 13-6, before falling in the nightcap, 14-11.
"With the wind blowing out like that, we knew were were going to have to score a lot of runs today," said MCC head coach Rich Grife.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
Marshalltown Community College’s T.J. Flanagan blasts the first of his two home runs during MCC’s doubleheader against Kirkwood on Thursday at Shawn Williams Field. The Tigers took game one, 13-6, while the Eagles triumped in the nightcap, 14-11.
The Tigers (17-30) did just that right out of the gates, bashing three round-trippers in the first inning of game one alone. T.J. Werner opened the day's scoring with his solo shot while T.J. Flanagan and Trevor Fowler both added two-run bombs in the frame to stake MCC to an early 5-0 advantage over the Eagles (18-23).
Flanagan also left the yard in game two to give him a pair of homers in a 6-for-9 day that featured four RBIs. He now has five homers on the year.
"He has one of the greatest swings I have ever seen," said Grife of his 2009 Marshalltown High School graduate. "He's going to have a great career."
On the mound for MCC was another former Bobcat, Partrick Sharpshair, who went 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs while striking out six.
The freshman began to have issues with his control after the first three innings, but was able to battle through his command problems to limit the damage and keep Kirkwood at arm's length.
The Eagles turned the tables on the Tigers in game two, racing out to a big lead of their own early on.
Kirkwood pushed across one run in the first inning before plating three after a Tiger error that could have ended the inning extended the frame. The Tigers then only got out of the inning after the Eagles' Brennan Malloy popped up a bunt attempt after four straight batters had reached base for Kirkwood.
A Zach Thompson single scored two runs and cut the Eagles' lead in half at the bottom side of the inning, but Kirkwood pushed its edge to three on an unearned run after another Tiger error in the third.
MCC looked to be picking up steam though when Flanagan launched his second home run of the day and Scott Lahn scored Miko Bernstine on a sacrifice fly to trim the lead to one.
It appeared that it'd be just a matter of time before MCC overtook the Eagles, but the thing that has plagued the Tigers recently - allowing big innings - popped up again in the fourth frame.
After allowing one run to cross and then loading the bases, MCC's game two starter Dustin Brisel was pulled for reliever Joe Stoker.
Stoker got Bill Kass to hit the ball on the ground, but it skipped just past the outreached glove of MCC shortstop Brandon Haines to score two runs, extending the Kirkwood lead to four.
The Eagles crossed home three more times courtesy of a single, fielder's choice and an MCC error to bring the run total to six for the inning.
"We just have to be able to get control," said Grife of his team's bad habit of landslide innings. "In games during the week, you don't have the same pitching you have during the weekend, so it happens to everybody."
MCC tried to claw its way back with multi-run homers from Lahn and Bernstine, but was never able to put the tying run in the batters box.
All told, the two teams combined for 44 runs, 10 homers, and 49 hits, with 14 going for extra bases in a doubleheader which took 5 1/2 hours to complete.
The Tigers will now turn their attention to a four-game series on Saturday and Sunday with NJCAA Division I No. 23 and Iowa Community College Athletic Conference leader Iowa Western.
The Reivers (35-10, 11-1) are tied for the highest team batting average in NJCAA Division I, sporting a .396 mark.
They share the top-spot with Chattanooga State (Tenn.).
The games are of the utmost importance for the Tigers as they're trying to hold off both Indian Hills and Muscatine for second place in the ICCAC.