BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Offensive struggles continue to plague the Fort Madison Bloodhound baseball team as they were handed two more losses 13-3 and 12-0 Monday night at home.
The Hounds trailed by just two runs in the first game before Mt. Pleasant put up eight runs in the top of the 5th and the Hounds couldn’t answer in the bottom half with a run to invoke the 10-run rule.
In the second game, the Hounds came up against Zach Beason, who threw a no-hit shut out giving up only 3 walks in 5 innings. Beason gave up walks to Jace Burgher, Brandon Reichelt, and Elijah Barnes for the only baserunners the Hounds had on the night.
Again it was a single inning that set the tone for the game as the Hounds trailed just 3-0 going into the fourth inning behind some decent mound work from freshman Burgher. FMHS head coach Ken Steeples brought in senior Brady Reynolds to start the inning in relief of Burgher.
The Panthers jumped on Reynolds after he struck out the first batter and walked the second. Pat Canby singled in a run and after the Hounds Diego Lozano lost a ball in the dark sky in left field, Zac Ebeling laced a double to deep right to plate two more runs. An error by Dayne Cordray at short and a walk was enough for Steeples as he brought in Lennon Barker to finish the inning. Barker got the next two batters out to end the inning.
“He’s a senior and we needed to get someone in to help with us with some strikes,” Steeples said of the pitching change to start the inning.
The Hounds came up in the bottom of the fourth and went 1-2-3 on two strike outs and a ground out to first to set up the fifth inning down 7-0.
Barker stayed in for the fifth inning, but the Panthers got five of the six hitters across to put the game out of reach. An error in right and four walks plated four runs. The Panthers’ Colby Potts hit a sacrifice fly to center to score another and Steeples brought in Parker Denning as the third pitcher of the night. Denning gave up a single but then got the next hitter to line out to Burgher at third to end the inning.
The bottom of the fifth wasn’t much more productive. Elijah Barnes worked a walk, but a ground out, a strikeout, and a fielder’s choice ended the game for the Hounds.
“We’ve been very streaky,” said Steeples after the game. “We have someone get a hit and then the next kid can get a hit. But then if we get a kid that strikes out, the next kid comes up and strikes out.”
Steeples said his troops are also struggling as they grow with off-speed pitches.
“We’re having trouble hitting the curve ball,” he said. “Right now they’re getting us on 0-2 curves in the dirt. We’re just chasing those right now so we need to get more disciplined at the plate.”
Most of the pitching this year is being done by underclassmen, but Steeples said he isn’t seeing the development he had hoped for this year.
“Some of them just have not stepped up yet,'” he said. “They just haven’t improved as much as I thought they would. We have some freshmen and sophomores and a couple of eighth graders, too, that came up.”
FMHS is 0-18 on the season after dropping two shutouts last week to Washington. The Hounds host North Scott in a doubleheader Wednesday.