Marshalltown got one gutty pitching performance and had a superb night team-wide at the plate.
One nightmare inning nearly cast a pall on the entire evening.
The Bobcats, though, emerged Thursday with a sweep of rival Ames in a CIML Iowa baseball doubleheader at the MHS diamond.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
Marshalltown’s Alex Thompson slides safely into home after Ames’ Izzak Bloch, right, threw a wild pitch while MHS’ Kyle Carnahan, left, watches on. The Bobcats swept the CIML Iowa Conference doubleheader Thursday at home.
A wild 16-14 win in the opener and a drama-free 7-3 victory in the nightcap gets the Bobcats back over .500 with a 12-11 overall record and improves their conference mark to 5-7.
"We started the day wanting and needing a sweep, and we got the sweep," said MHS head coach Steve Hanson. "So we're pleased with that."
The Bobcats bullied the Little Cyclones right out of the gate, batting 11 and scoring six runs in the first inning and eventually building a 13-0 advantage after three.
CIML Iowa Conference Baseball Standings
Fort Dodge 10-2
Mason City 3-9
Marshalltown 16-7, Ames 14-3
Valley 10-5, Fort Dodge 0-8
Waukee 4-11, Mason City 0-1
MHS looked sure to finish things in a run-ruled shortened five innings, carrying a 16-3 lead into the fifth, but the Ames bats suddenly came alive while the Bobcats struggled to execute on the mound or in the field.
Nine consecutive Little Cyclones reached base with two outs, with the frame culminating in a grand slam from Sam Straub to put the finishing touches on an inning so big the scoreboard couldn't contain it.
MHS' scoreboard only allows for single-digit scoring innings while Ames crossed home 10 times in the fifth.
"We didn't throw enough strikes and we didn't make enough plays, and in our league, if you don't throw strikes and you don't make plays, 10-run innings happen. They do," noted Hanson.
Ames had six hits, drew three walks and took advantage of an error and a balk to put up the double-digit inning.
"Seldom will you have a no-error, no-walk, no-hit-by-pitch 10-run inning. That doesn't happen," said Hanson. "We have to assist the process, and we did a lot of that."
Ames added another run in the sixth to draw within two, but Blake Judkins pitched a perfect seventh inning to preserve the victory that was made possible by the early outburst of the MHS offense.
The Bobcats' 1-2-3 hitters - Alex Thompson, Ryan Mitchell and Kyle Carnahan - all went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk. Thompson and Mitchell scored a trio of runs while Carnahan scored twice, and finished a single short of hitting for the cycle.
"Fortunately tonight we had enough runs where we were able to rope-a-dope it and hang and overcome it. Most nights you don't. Most nights you get knocked out," said Hanson.
Judkins and Hunter Hillygus both drove in two runs in the opener while Bennett Mann had a double and two runs scored in addition to picking up the win on the mound after allowing eight runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
After the strong performance at the plate and catching six innings behind it, Carnahan notched a complete-game victory in the nightcap, allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked none.
"He grinded. Outstanding effort," Hanson said. "The fact is that he caught game one and came back and threw over 100 pitches in game two, which is asking a lot, but he wanted the ball.
"If he wants the ball, in my book he's got it any time he wants it."
The Bobcats again got to work early on Ames' Alex Brammer, who started and was tabbed with a loss in both games.
A single from Mann scored two in the bottom of the first and was followed by an error and a Connor Bueghly sacrifice fly that pushed across two more. The Bobcats added three more in the second to finish their scoring for the day while Carnahan kept Ames off balance the rest of the way.
Mann and Judkins both had a pair of RBIs in game two while Mitchell had three hits to make his a 6-for-8 day and help MHS score a winning week after splitting with Class 4A No. 5 Waukee on Monday.
"I think we got after their best pitcher to start the night. We started well offensively and in game two we started well again, and then kind of went to sleep," Hanson said. "We didn't really swing it well after that.
"The run cushion was mandatory in game one, and the run cushion was convenient in game two."
Ames' Bo Brammer tallied three hits in the nightcap while Alex Brammer hit a home run. Joe Bappe, Alex Brammer and Dom Sorrentino all had two RBIs in the opener.
MHS will travel to No. 6 Valley for a double dip Monday before hosting Mason City on Thursday, traveling to Des Moines Hoover on Friday and then tilts Saturday against Waterloo West and Bettendorf at the Brent Prange Invitational hosted by Ankeny.
"The schedule's brutal and we're looking at seeding (for substate) and a lot of things," Hanson said. "Everybody's schedule is brutal. You just have to maximize your opportunities.
"We won two games (Thursday), and that's a great thing. Three-and-one on the week, that's a good week.
"We've got to be able to grow, and hopefully learn from the bad last half of game one."