SHENANDOAH – The Shenandoah Mustangs scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to tie the score but fell 5-4 in eight innings to Harlan, Thursday, June 25.
The Mustangs were in an early 4-1 hole, but fought back against a Cyclone program that lost its run of eight consecutive state tournament appearances last season.
“I’m proud of the way they fought and how they competed,” Shenandoah head coach Brett Roberts said. “There have been times in the past we haven’t competed with those guys mentally. We competed and had good energy.”
Braden Knight and Owen McCunn reached base on a walk and a single to start the fifth inning. They were still there with two outs, but Knight stole third and then scored on a Cyclone error to cut the Harlan lead to 4-2.
Devin Morelock singled to open the sixth frame. He took second on a wild pitch, third on a flyout to right field and then scored on the same play on an overthrow from right to third.
Anthony Stogdill walked with one out in the seventh, and then scored on Ruzek’s double. Ruzek represented the winning run, but was caught and tagged out in a rundown between second and third, trying to advance on the throw home.
“Getting that run in the seventh inning and showing we can do that is big,” said Roberts. “I’m happy with that.”
Harlan took the lead back in the eighth inning. Joey Moser walked against Shenandoah relief pitcher Logan Dickerson. Moser stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Isaiah Ahrenholtz’s sacrifice fly.
Dickerson singled with one out in the home eighth. He was forced out at second on a bloop hit by Cain Lorimor over first base, but Knight grounded out to end the game.
Shenandoah’s first run came in the first inning. Lorimor singled, Knight walked and then Lorimor scored on a groundout.
The Mustangs finished with 10 hits against three Cyclone pitchers and Roberts said the offense has come a long ways in a week.
“Our at-bats and approaches are so much better and we’re seeing the ball better,” said Roberts. “Now we have to be more productive in some of our at-bats, moving runners over and getting them in. The kids have worked at it and they have taken to it and are starting to believe a little bit. We need to keep building and eventually, with good approaches, we can be a good hitting team.”
The first four Cyclone runs came in the opening two innings against Nick Mather, but Mather settled down after that until he reached his pitch count maximum with two outs in the seventh.
“I’m happy with Nick and the way he settled down,” said Roberts. “He threw well and our defense was playing well. We threw a guy out at home, Braden made some good plays at short and Blake (Herold) made some good plays at third. We made baseball plays, the simple plays you have to make to win. Nick kept them off-balanced. We settled down, started playing and got more and more confident that we can play with these guys.”
Mather struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits, two walks and four earned runs. Dickerson took the loss, giving up one hit, one walk and an earned run in 1 1/3 innings.
Lorimor led the Mustang offense with three hits. Ruzek added two, both doubles.
The Mustangs fell to 2-2 overall and in the Hawkeye 10 Conference.
Leadoff hitter Connor Bruck finished with four of Harlan’s seven hits.
The Cyclones improved to 4-2 overall and in the conference.