Madrid give Hawks get extra motivation to return to Principal Park
What hoped to be a preview for the end of the July turned into motivation of what Woodward-Granger (9-4-1) hopes to avoid in a few weeks…lose at Principal Park.
After Woodward won in walk-off fashion the first time, Madrid (5-2) got revenge Tuesday with a 3-1 win to usurp the Hawks.
With the ultimate goal to return to Principal again for the state tournament, the Hawks now have a benchmark to build upon these next few weeks. And at the very least, have one special experience.
Give a hand…or seven
The stat sheet might suggest to fans that the Hawks had a tough time on the mound as the ball was exchanged between seven pitchers. Seven senior pitchers to be exact. This was designed before the game even started.
“I had seven senior pitchers and I wanted to get them all in,” Hawks head coach Eric Evans said regarding the plan to make sure the seniors had at least this moment on a professional field.
Caden Easter received the start and threw one strikeout. Jay Dorenkamp was next in line to which Madrid respond with a two-run inning to take a 2-1 lead. Brandon Worley threw only seven pitches to retire the third inning, and Justin Wheeler’s fourth inning ended with three straight outs.
Reese Jamison moved over from shortstop to the mound for the sixth inning where Madrid extended to a 3-1 lead. Nate Rosen came in for a pair of outs before Alex Bice came in for the final out with hopes of breaking the team’s career saves record.
“This would have been a pretty cool place to do it,” Evans said. “I told Rosen I’m not shortchanging him an out, but I wanted to get Alex at least one out. Hopefully we’re back and we’ll start a game here and won’t have to worry about it.”
With the senior pitching staff doing its part by not allowing an earned run, the Tigers found success off the shortcomings of the rest of the defense that let by all three runs on errors. On earned runs alone, Woodward would win 1-0.
That second inning which the Tigers took the lead was all started by two errors, including a missed double play that would have expedited the inning. Another more athletic attempt in the outfield was missed, letting one more run through in the fifth inning.
Overall, the Hawks committed four errors which directly reflected on the scoreboard. It was rare form for the Hawks who have thrived in backing up their pitchers most of the season, averaging 1.7 errors per game.
“Getting in all those guys to pitch, I had to make some defensive changes that maybe a couple guys haven’t taken a lot of reps at,” Evans said. “And to be in a normal game, of our stature doing that is a [good sign].”
But that efficiency was seen in spurts throughout the game like Jamison logging all three outs in the third inning thanks to a double play. And from the mound, Rosen threw out two Tigers at first base on top of his strikeout.
Work in progress
Already 15 games in the season, W-G is still finding its identity at the plate. Not known for the long ball, the Hawks have been driving balls out to the warning tracks as of late. Ultimately, it was of little avail as the scoreboard didn’t reflect that power Tuesday.
“We didn’t get an inch to get something rolling,” Evans said. “We hit a lot of balls at ‘em, fly balls which are easy to catch. We didn’t put pressure on them. We didn’t bunt a lot. But with their third baseman playing halfway up the whole night, they knew we were going to bunt.”
With that lack of variety from the plate, the Tigers held the Hawks’ bats in check for only four hits — Jamison (2), Pacey Moats (1), Jack Grell (1). Jamison and Grell combined for two hits in the second inning to which Jamison drove in Bryce Achenbach for the team’s lone run.
“We squared up the ball a little bit, I just think we gotta take our pitching mentality and turn that into our bats. Like, we’re gonna win,” Evans said with reassurance of the team’s future.
Up Next: Des Moines Christian (Thursday doubleheader)
The Lions received the No. 7 ranking in this past week’s coaches poll, putting them two spots behind the Hawks. Last year, DMC won both games.