JUCO baseball: Warriors bounce back from home series loss

Apr. 19—CENTERVILLE — Few teams are better at capitalizing on mistakes than the Indian Hills baseball team.

Over the weekend, however, the Warriors ran into a squad that can be just as relentless if given the opportunity.

Northeast became the first visiting team this season to earn multiple wins and a series at Pat Daugherty Field. The Hawks scored seven unanswered runs in the middle innings, erasing an early 2-1 IHCC lead to take the series finale from the Warriors, clinching a 13-6 win on Sunday to take two of three Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) regular-season contests.

"It was a series of free bases. In the first game that we lost (10-5 last Saturday), we gave up too many walks and it cost us," Northeast head coach Marcus Clapp said. "In the games we won, we took advantage of the opportunities that came with those free bases."

Indian Hills head baseball coach Matthew Torrez agreed with the assessment. Seven Warrior pitchers walked six batters and hit six more over the course of Sunday's nine-inning series finale.

"We just didn't do a very good job on the mound or defensively. If you look at all the games we've lost this season, that's pretty much been the case," Torrez said. "Traditionally, we've been pretty good at those things. I think that's why we were frustrated. It's difficult to be on the flip side of those things."

Indian Hills bounced back in a big way on Monday, rolling to a 13-2 road win over NIACC. Four combined pitchers allowed just two runs on six hits, walking five batters while striking out seven in the contest.

The Warriors never looked back against the Trojans, scoring three runs in the second inning including a two-run double to right by Miguel Salazar. Thomas Maathuis, Ciro Benavides and Endi Jaquez added RBI hits for Indian Hills during a five-run third-inning that put the Warriors in command.

"We can be dangerous at the plate. We may not be able to drive the ball out of the park all the time, but we can dangerous with solid contact to put up runs," Torrez said. "It's just a matter of holding teams down. When you give up 10 runs a game, like we did over the weekend, we're not going to be dangerous against anyone.

"We had a quick turnaround and had to figure out a way to get after it again. I wasn't concerned about the two losses (to Northeast). I'm confident in our ability to figure it out. We've got good kids. We've got good players. We've just got to keep moving forward."

J.J. Dutton paced Indian Hills last Sunday, producing both runs for the Warriors in the first three innings. Dutton drove in Raul Torres in the opening inning against Northeast with an RBI single before coming home on fielder's choice by Zachari Pace in the third, giving IHCC a 2-1 lead.

"I just tried to keep the approach simple at the plate and provide us with an early spark," Dutton said. "It's baseball, though. Sometimes, things just don't go your way."

It took just two swings for Northeast (27-16, 14-6 ICCAC) to regain the lead in the series finale. Brice Wallar singled off the glove of Benavides to extend the fourth inning, setting up Derek Woolwine for a go-ahead two-run home run to right giving the Hawks a 3-2 lead.

The swing by Woolwine completely turned the momentum of the game around. Indian Hills failed to collect a hit over the next three innings, putting just two runners on base while Northeast continued to tack on runs with a bases-clearing double by Cade Grevengae in the fifth and RBI single in the sixth by Woolwine giving the Hawks an 8-2 lead.

"We just weren't quite as aggressive as we needed to be at the plate," Dutton said. "We made a few mistakes defensively, but it really came down to our hitting. We weren't aggressive enough."

Indian Hills cut the lead to 8-4 in the seventh, but could not hold down the Hawks in the eighth. Without hitting the ball out of the infield, Northeast was able to put three runs on the board before a two-run single up the middle by Wallar gave the Hawks a late nine-run lead.

"That's the game of baseball. We talk with our guys all the time about the fact that we're never out of a game," Clapp said. "We're always grinding. We take the same approach. No matter what the score is, we never get too high and we never get too low. Our guys did a good job at staying the course and it paid off."

Fano Cruz led Indian Hills with three hits and a pair of RBI on Sunday. Maathuis led the Warriors at NIACC (14-25, 6-13 ICCAC) with three hits while Jaquez and Benavides each drove in three runs for the Warriors.

Indian Hills (28-10, 13-6 ICCAC) returned to the diamond on Friday at Marshalltown before hitting the road for a three-game regional series in Fort Dodge at Iowa Central. Action between the Warriors and Tritons gets underway with a doubleheader on Saturday at Stark Family Stadium starting at 1 p.m.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.