TAMA - Life is perfect for East Marshall for at least a day.
The Mustangs took a pair of games in a matchup with NICL West baseball co-leaders South Tama to take sole possession of first place in the conference.
East Marshall rode a one-hitter from John Bloom to take game one, 1-0, and converted a suicide squeeze in the seventh inning of game two to claim a 5-4 victory.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
East Marshall senior starting pitcher John Bloom fires to the plate Monday in the third inning of his one-hit, complete-game shutout of South Tama in NICL West baseball action. The Mustangs took both games of a doubleheader on the road to move alone on the top of the conference standings.
"I said in a perfect world we'd sweep, in a good world we'd split and in a bad world we'd get none," said Mustangs head coach Justin Frost. "Our pitching was very good again. I knew we would have trouble scoring on (STC) so I told (the players) to begin with that we'd have to scratch and claw to get a couple runs, and we did.
"Both games were just like I expected, they were dogfights."
East Marshall now sports an 8-1 conference mark, two games ahead of the Trojans (8-8, 6-3) and one ahead of West Marshall (10-5, 7-2), with five league games left on the schedule.
Bloom didn't allow a hit in the opener until there were two down in the top of the seventh with the Mustangs batting in the home half of the inning to make up a washout from last month.
The senior struck out nine batters and walked just two to allow a Nick Mommer run-scoring single in the fourth to stand up for the victory.
"He's done it all year. It doesn't surprise me. He's a gamer," Frost said of Bloom.
Both teams fought back from deficits in the nightcap, swapping leads until a double from Dalton Doyle scored Grant Koch from third to knot the game at four in the sixth.
But Josh Wilson led off the seventh with a single for East Marshall, advanced to second on an error and then stole third.
Sophomore Zach Rubenbauer stepped to the plate with one out and laid down a near-perfect bunt as Wilson broke for home on the suicide squeeze, his slide elluding the tag from Trojan catcher Noah Bearden.
"We work on it all the time, but I hadn't really felt comfortable using it in a game," said Frost, "and I thought maybe now's a good a time as any. Luckily Zach got it down and Josh hit it well. We executed it well.
"I was a little nervous with that one."
The play may not have ever materialized had it not been for heads up baserunning from Wilson.
The junior easily stole third as he noticed STC's Clay Waterbury pitching from the windup.
"That was on his own," said Frost. "It allowed us to squeeze with one out. If he doesn't do that then who knows. We have to get a base hit or they have to make an error or somethign else has to happen.
"That might be the play of the game."
Dakotah Wolken had two hits, one a double, while Dalton Beadle had a pair of hits, including a double, and three RBIs. Wolken also pitched a complete game on the mound for the victory.
Koch allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out four in the nightcap no-decision.
STC's Sam Kuhter had four strikeouts, walked three and allowed five hits in a six-inning complete-game loss in the opener.
"I told both our starting pitchers, you both deserved to win tonight," said Trojans head coach Seth Koch. "Defensively, we had a couple breakdowns. You have to give the Mustangs credit. They took advantage of it and they pushed runs across the plate.
"It was fun, they really were," he continued. "It's what high school baseball is supposed to be all about. Hopefully we'll bounce back and go up to AGWSR and take a little frustration out on them (today)."
"These are the kind of games you learn something from and I think we did," he added.
Chase Schuett, Koch and Doyle all had one RBI in the loss for the Trojans, who face the Cougars on the road tonight before hosting Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Thursday followed by conference tilts against South Hardin, BCLUW and West Marshall the next week.
"If you go clean the rest of the way until next Friday, you'll be right up there. Three losses right now is not a death sentence. Three losses is still pretty darn good," said Coach Koch. "There's going to be something funny that happens in the next week and a half, and we've just got to go about our business and not worry about what everybody else is doing."
The Mustangs host G-R tonight and South Hardin Thursday before heading to Centerville for three games to finish off a seven-games-in-six-days stretch.
"I told the kids to enjoy it (Monday), but you've got to get right back on it (Tuesday) against another good squad," said Frost. "It's an absolutely brutal week for us this week."