BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison baseball team got their first win of the season in an exciting matchup with crosstown rival Holy Trinity Catholic 4-2 Tuesday night.
The game really came down to two innings of unfortunate circumstances for the Crusaders. The bottom of the first and the top of the 5th.
Holy Trinity jumped out to a two nothing lead in the top half of the first. Reed Fehseke led off the game with a triple to right field. The Hounds’ Carlos Gonzalez tried to make a shoe slide catch on the play and the ball bounded over his glove and Fehseke slid into third under the throw. Kaiden Medland then hit a grounder to Jordyn Gerdes on the mound. Fehseke was off on contact and the throw to home was off target. Collin Thornton then hit a double to left to score Medland.
Kyle Bredemeyer then lined out to first and Thornton got caught leaning at second and was the victim of a double play. Cameron Bahl grounded out to second to end the inning with the Crusaders up 2-0.
The bottom half of the inning started out harmless enough when Ryan Steffensmeier flew out to left and Aaron Steffensmeier grounded into an unassisted out at first.
Then things took a wild turn for the 0-26 Hounds. Gerdes started with a double to left and advanced to third on the play on an error on throw in from left that missed Thornton on the cutoff. Tyler O’Tool then singled to left driving in Gerdes’ courtesy runner. O’Tool swiped second. Logan Allen then came to the plate and struck out, which should have ended the inning there, but Allen raced to first on the dropped strike. Bredemeyer threw down to first to get Allen on the play but the ball sailed over Vasin Thurman into the right field corner. The Crusaders couldn’t track the ball down before the speedy Allen raced all the way around and scored.
On the following play Jace Burgher struck out in what would have been the fourth out of the inning, but again the ball got away from Bredemeyer and Burgher ended up at first.
Bahl got Lennon Barker to strike, which was the third hitter in a row to strike out, but this time the ball hit Bredemeyer’s mitt to end the inning with the Hounds up 3-2.
The next three innings went very quickly. Gerdes gave up a walk to HTC’s Ben Tinguely in the second, and a bang-bang play at third when Brady Reynolds didn’t see a hold sign from Head Coach Ken Steeples and tried to stretch a double into a triple in the bottom half of the inning and was caught at third. The third inning had two base runners. HTC’s Thornton was issued a walk and was left stranded at first and O’Tool reached on a Thornton error in the bottom half, but was stranded, as well.
HTC started the fifth with a Quentin Schneider ground out to Dayne Cordray at short. Then Gerdes walked Fehseke and Medland. Thornton reached on an infield single that held everyone on the base paths. Bredemeyer then grounded to third where Lennon Barker threw to Allen at home and he relayed to O’Tool at first for a 6-2-3 double play that ended the inning.
“That was the key play of the game,” said Steeples. “We were just doing everything we could to get an out there.”
Indeed it was the play of the game as Fort Madison would score what amounted to the winning run in the bottom half. Ryan Steffensmeier fanned to start the inning. Aaron Steffensmeier singled to deep short. The Crusaders got Gerdes to hit into a fielder’s choice at second and was thrown out while Steffensmeier advanced. HTC Head Coach Albert Schinstock then put O’Tool on intentionally to create a force on the bases, but Allen came through with a single to left to score Steffensmeier. Jace Burgher then flew out to center to end the inning.
Bahl started the sixth with a double to right-center but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice on a grounder back to the pitcher by Aiden Alfred. The next two hitters flew out to right and left field to end the top half of the sixth. HTC senior Ben Tinguely made a diving catch of a Barker fly to right and the Crusaders went unscathed the rest of the sixth.
The Hounds got a little more defense going in the top of the 7th. Schneider grounded out to the pitcher, but Fehseke walked. Medland then grounded to the left of second base but Cordray scooped it up, stepped on second, and fired over to first to end the game.
“Aside from the first inning, I thought we played very well defensively,” Schinstock said after the game. “We also probably had our best hitting game of the year.”
Schinstock said the intensity was a little higher in the crosstown game and he hopes the scheduling continues to include the Hounds.
“We haven’t played them, I think, since 2001 and they were just coming off their state championship. We had a good team, they had a good team, and I think they brought their jay-vee,” he said.
“So yeah, it was a little more intense. And obviously both teams played very well.”
Schinstock also said Bahl, who went the distance for the Crusaders, pitched well and kept their runners under control.
Steeples also only used one pitcher for the whole game.
“I’m really happy statistically that he got the win. He really did a good job with his command.”
Steeples said the game was more energized because of the crosstown atmosphere.
“I really hope they continue to schedule them. It was good for our team to get the win, but they played very well and it was a good game,” he said.
Defensively, the Hounds turned three double plays.
‘We haven’t had three double plays all year,” Steeples said. “I told them to make the routine plays and the special plays will come and we saw some of that tonight.”
The Hounds improve to 1-26 on the season and HTC falls to 3-15 on the season. Holy Trinity travels to West Burlington on Friday and the Hounds play at Centerville on the same day.