ANKENY - The Marshalltown baseball team continues to prove that when it plays a fundamentally sound game in the field, throws strikes on the mound and takes good at-bats at the plate, they can play with anyone.
Unfortunately, they also have learned that mistakes in the field and free passes from the mound can prevent the Bobcats from finding the win column.
Saturday, in the Brent Prange Classic at Ankeny High School, both scenarios occurred.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
The Brent Prange Baseball Classic awards a Most Valuable Player medal after every game, and Marshalltown sophomore pitcher Colton Hanke took home the honor Saturday after his complete-game effort on the mound helped the Bobcats score a 6-1 win over Bettendorf at Ankeny High School.
In a game one win over Bettendorf, the Bobcats got a gem from sophomore Colton Hanke on the mound and multiple hits from Blake Judkins and Hunter Hillygus at the plate during a 6-1 victory.
In game two, the Bobcats collected just six hits at the dish, committed four errors in the field and walked eight batters from the mound in a 7-1 loss to Pleasant Valley.
"It was beneficial for us to play two talented teams from a different part of the state," MHS coach Steve Hanson said. "In the first game we did a much better job of throwing strikes and handling the bat, and game two was similar to many we've played this year in that we didn't command the strike zone and we couldn't bunch up any hits."
The Brent Prange Classic, which features games at five different sites around the Des Moines metro area, gives out a Most Valuable Player medal after every game.
That honor went to Hanke in the victory against the Bulldogs. The sophomore southpaw was fantastic in recording his first complete game of the season. Hanke (3-2) allowed just six hits and one earned run, while fanning two and walking one.
"Hank did a real nice job keeping Bettendorf hitters off balance, and we made several nice defensive plays," Hanson said.
The Bobcats jumped out to an early lead in the second inning when Judkins led off the frame with a triple and then scored on an RBI groundout by Mason McCarville.
Marshalltown (12-13) kept the pressure on at the plate in the third inning when they loaded the bases. Hillygus drove in the second run of the game with a single, but Brett Malsam stranded the bases loaded when the final two outs were made at shortstop.
Two more runs were plated in the fifth inning to push the lead to 4-0. Judkins had an RBI single in the inning that sent home Grant Thimesch and then Hillygus, who singled, sprinted home on a double steal with Judkins.
An error and three free passes came back to bite the Bulldogs in the seventh inning as the Bobcats scored their final two runs.
Thimesch reached on an error to start the inning and Hillygus walked to put two runners on. Judkins loaded the bases with a bunt single and then Bettendorf reliever Trey Muilenburg hit McCarville to bring in the first run. Michael Schrempf was then walked with the bases still full to make it 6-0. A double play got the Bulldogs, who beat Class 4A No. 6 Dowling Catholic on Friday, out of the inning but the damage had been done.
Hanke's only run allowed was scored in the seventh inning. Cam Wernentin tripled with one out and then scored on an RBI groundout by Jacob Wenzel.
Five of Marshalltown's seven hits came from Judkins and Hillygus and Thimesch also scored twice in the win. Marshalltown stranded eight runners on base but did not commit an error in the field.
Against Pleasant Valley, four errors and eight walks from four different pitchers proved too much to overcome.
The Spartans needed just two innings to score their seven runs, crossing twice in the second and five times in the fifth. Each team had six hits in the game and a combined 13 walks were issued from the pitching staffs.
Marshalltown's only run of the game was scored in the fourth when Dylan Diveney was walked with the bases loaded. That scored Hillygus, who finished with one hit and one walk in the loss.
Hits also were collected in the game from Ryan Mitchell, Judkins, McCarville, Austin Sowers and Hanke.
Austin Fink evened his record to 4-4 on the season after allowing just one run and five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked five.
Connor Ruddick (0-1) allowed two runs - zero earned - one hit and two walks in his first start of the year. The Bobcats used five pitchers in all and no one threw more than Tyler Moranville's 2 1/3 innings.
Ankeny High School hosted two other games on Saturday. Both of those involved Class 3A No. 2 Sioux City Bishop Heelan. The Crusaders opened with a 13-inning, 3-2, win over Class 4A No. 1 Ankeny and then defeated Des Moines Roosevelt, 14-2, in six innings. Aside from going 13 innings, the Sioux City Heelan-Ankeny game also featured two rain delays.
The Bobcats will next play Monday at the MHS diamond against Ames in a Central Iowa Conference Northern Division doubleheader at 5 p.m. They also travel to Urbandale on Tuesday.