Nardini twins cap Woodward-Granger tourney wins
Following a two-win home tournament sweep, Woodward-Granger (5-1-1) became just the fifth team in all of Class 2A competition to reach five wins at the end of the opening week. That has come in part as one of the only teams in the state to play seven games, but a 3-2 win over Pella Christian (1-3) and a 8-0 rout of Ankeny Christian (3-2) added to the win column all the same — showing the Hawks on both ends of their spectrum of outcomes.
There’s still some work to do moving forward though, as head coach Eric Evans explained.
“If you take the names off the scores, it looks like we’re playing the best team in the state every night. As a coach, that’s not what I want to sleep well at night seeing. There’s some things we still need to figure out,” Evans said.
“The Heart Attack Hawks’
At this point, it’s become a joke: The Hawks go up to bat with a tied game in the final inning. And somehow, they still walk away without a loss.
Senior shortstop Reese Jamison came up to the plate with Tate Lettow on third base with a 2-2 game against Pella Christian. After taking in a 1-1 count, he grounded to third, forcing an error to make way for Lettow (who was pinch running after a Colby Tague double) to score the winning run.
This is the third time this season the Hawks have held a 2-2 game in the bottom of the seventh. The first ended in another walk-off winner against ACGC. The other was the 2-2 tie game with Van Meter that was suspended due to inclement weather (and will not be rescheduled to resume due to scheduling conflicts).
“If we get in that spot in a meaningful game, they’re gonna have success to recall from like we’ve been here before. It’s kind of a joke, ‘Alright, seventh inning let’s go.’ Obviously you don’t want to live and die on it, but they know they can do it,” Evans said.
All for one, one for all
While some games have relied on the power of Jamison or who’s on the mound, Woodward’s second win of the night came via the entire lineup’s equal contributions.
Hitting 11-of-26 and drawing seven walks as a team, every batter in the starting lineup either scored or drove in a run. Jamison and Tague stood out with two runs and an RBI apiece, but it was the first game of the season that so many players were directly involved lighting up the scoreboard.
“Everybody was producing runs, and to be honest, if we have more than four runs, we’re probably okay,” Evans said, referencing the team’s strong bullpen.
You get to pitch, Everyone gets to pitch
Even with a rotation of starters that ranks among the most efficient in the state, the Hawks boast an even deeper rotation that has stretched into the underclassmen group.
After Brandon Worley logged a completed game with eight strikeouts against Pella Christian, freshman Brody Nardini came against Ankeny for his first-ever start. It turned into one for the record books.
Through the first out of the fifth inning, he had a no-hitter on his hands with five strikeouts. After the game, he told the Perry Chief it took the first inning to find his zone but was comfortable from there.
“I just had the mindset of coming in, throw strikes. But my defense was behind me, Reese had a hell of a game (at shortstop).”
Evans said with the pitch count climbing, he was waiting until Nardini let up a hit to call in a reliever. Once that 84th pitch turned into the first and only hit of the night for the Eagles, Brody’s twin Collin stepped in to retire the side with two consecutive strikeouts.
“We used to do that all the time when we were younger. I start, he closes. He starts, I close. It’s just a little twin thing that we have,” Brody said.
Collin’s work then put Nate Rosen in position to complete the shutout after tossing another two K’s.
Next Up: West Central Valley (Monday)
The Wildcats have yet to play a full game this season, allowing over 10 runs in each contest. W-G won 19-1 and 12-2 last year.