BY ETHAN LILLARD
WAPELLO – The great Rocky Balboa said it best, ‘It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’
Wednesday at Wapello High School, Fort Madison’s baseball team got hit hard in the bottom of the first inning, as the Indians built a 4-0 lead through one inning. Fort Madison, living by the words of Balboa, kept moving on and eventually fought back so hard that they actually won by the ten-run rule, coming up with the 21-7.
“We came out flat and didn’t have much energy,” Fort Madison Head Coach Ron Waker said. “We didn’t represent who we were and didn’t play the game the right way the first inning. There were a lot of heads down defensively, a lot of bad attitudes.
“We had a talk after that first inning when we came in to bat in the top of the second. Get your heads up and play Bloodhound baseball and start taking at bats and make plays.”
The Bloodhounds did just that.
Dayne Cordray was hit by a pitch and moved all the way to third on a steal and a groundout from Jace Burgher. Landes Williams then brought Cordray home on a single. Fehseke then followed with a double at the top of the lineup to make it a 4-2 game. Jason Thurman was hit by a pitch, before Fehseke scored on a wild pitch to make it just a one-run game at 4-3.
A double and a walk from Wapello in the bottom of the second inning put runners on second and third base with no outs, putting pressure on the Hounds. Fort Madison responded with a huge double play.
Landes Williams fielded a come backer to the mound and recorded the force out at first. Playing heads up, Vasin Thurman saw the runner from second was trying to move to third. He then got that runner in a pickle before the runner went into third base, forcing the Wapello runner at third into a pickle himself. The runner at third was tagged out by the catcher Kane Williams, as Fort Madison now had two outs and a runner on third.
Williams was able to get the following batter to pop out, ending the threat and keeping it at a one-run game. Walker said that was the turning point in the game for the Bloodhounds.
“We took advantage of their base running mistake and were able to get a double play, which gave us two outs and runner on third,” Walker said. “We got out of that second inning still down 4-3 so that gave us a lot of momentum to know we could shut them down and come back and take our at bats and take the game over.”
Then Bloodhounds did take the game over in the fourth inning.
Landes Williams came through with a one-out single, before Fehseke was hit by a pitch. Jason Thurman then singled to bring in Williams to tie the game, before a Brandon Reichelt single plated Fehske to give Fort Madison the lead. A balk from the Wapello pitcher plated Jason Thurman, giving the Hounds a 6-4 advantage.
That was just the beginning.
Tate Johnson reached safely in the top of the fifth, before four straight walks brought home two more runs to give Fort Madison an 8-4 lead. Jason Thurman followed by getting hit with a pitch to score the 9th run, before a sacrifice fly from Jordyn Gerdes plated run No. 10. Another balk then plated Fehseke from third, before an errant pickoff attempt allowed Thurman to score to make it a 12-4 Bloodhound lead.
Wapello put one run on the board in the bottom of the fifth, before Fort Madison exploded for a nine-run top of the sixth.
Tate Johnson was hit by a pitch and Cordray singled to start the inning. Johnson scored on a wild pitch, before Logan Rashid drew a walk. Landes Williams also walked, before Fehseke was hit by a pitch to plate Cordray for the 14-5 lead.
Jason Thurman singled to score run 16, before Gerdes walked to load the bases again with no outs. Two more walks ensued for two more run, before a Diego Lozano single brought in Gerdes for a 19-5 lead. The Hounds batted around in the order, as Rashid walked and Garrett Hannum was hit by a pitch to make the score 21-5.
Wapello scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn’t enough as Fort Madison went on to win by the final of 21-7.
Jason Thurman led the way for the Hounds with four RBIs, while Fehseke, Reichelt and Landes Williams each contributed two RBIs each. Fehseke scored four runs, while Jason Thurman, Cordray and Williams each crossed three times. Williams was awarded the win, throwing 92 pitches over five innings, allowing five hits and just one earned run while recording five strikeouts.
Fort Madison’s next four games will all be played back at home after coming off five games played on the road.
“We just went through a tough stretch of our schedule,” Walker said “We competed well, but we wound up 1-5 in the last six ball games. To get back in the win column going back home Monday in a conference double header in front of our home crowd, that’s huge. Hopefully we can carry the momentum over and bring the community out and enjoy a couple nights at the ball park next week.”
Fort Madison plays Keokuk at home Monday.