BY ETHAN LILLARD
FORT MADISON – New London came away with the 11-7 win against Fort Madison baseball Monday night at Fort Madison High School.
On the surface the matchup was just like any other game. But for those with background knowledge of the coaches and players on both sides, this game was a fun one.
For starters, Fort Madison Head Coach Ron Walker got into coaching thanks to New London’s JV Head Coach and Varsity assistant Justin Schulte. The two also coached together at Southeastern Community College after Schulte asked Walker to come back and help with the program having had Schulte as a coach during his college playing days at SCC.
“He’s done a great job,” Schulte said of Walker. “You can tell there is a little pride in what they’re doing. He brings energy to the ballpark and demands how you are going to do it … He cares about the kids and really genuinely loves his players and you can see it every time he steps on the field. I saw it for three years and enjoyed every minute of it.”
The third piece of the puzzle was the fact that many of the players starting for both the Bloodhounds and Tigers had played on the traveling Junior Blackhawks together, a team coached by Ron Walker after Schulte asked if he would take over the program.
“I’m not going to treat it different from any other game,” Walker said. “He’s taught me the mindset and mentality that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re playing out of our dugout. We will be playing out of the Bloodhound dugout (Monday) night and playing the game we’ve been taught to play.”
New London gained the upper hand in the top of the first inning. An error to begin the game put the Tigers’ lead-off runner on, before a walk and a single loaded the bases for New London with no outs.
Another walk then scored the first run of the game. The Hounds regrouped for back-to-back outs, but a hit by pitch plated the second run and gave the Tigers the 2-0 advantage.
In the top of the third inning Carter Allen blasted a home run over the left field fence, giving New London a 3-0 advantage.
The Bloodhounds responded immediately as they’ve done many times this year coming from behind.
Landes Williams started the bottom of the third with a single, before a Kane Williams groundout moved him to second. An error allowed Reed Fehseke to reach safely and move Williams to third. Jason Thurman then singled in Williams, before Jordryn Gerdes singled in Fehseke to cut the lead to one. Thurman followed by crossing home on an error to tie the game at three.
A walk, a hit by pitch and a single to start the fourth gave the Tigers back the lead. Another fielding error from Fort Madison allowed another run to score in the fourth, as New London built a 5-3 lead.
Once again the Hounds responded.
Dayne Cordray singled in the bottom of the fourth, before Tate Johnson followed with a single of his own. Landes Williams laid down a sacrifice bunt and moved the runners up, before Kane Williams brought in Cordray on a groundout. Fehseke then singled in Johnson to tie the game at five.
The game fell apart for Fort Madison in the sixth.
A single, a double and a triple with two outs gave New London a 7-5 lead, but that was just the beginning. The triple was followed with three-straight singles and a double to extend the Tiger lead to 11-5.
“There were about four or five plays that inning that weren’t good baseball,” Walker said. “They took advantage of our laziness .. then leaving 0-2 pitches over the plate. 0-2 you have to execute a pitch, you can’t throw a fast ball right down the middle of the plate and let them hit a ball down the right field line.”
Johnson was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth. Landes Williams then doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. Jason Thurman came through with a two-out double to plate both Johnson and Williams to cut the lead to 11-7.
That would be all the closer Fort Madison would get, as New London went on to win by the final of 11-7.
“Tip your hat to New London,” Walker said. “They came out and created their own breaks. They took some great at bats and worked some balls up and they took advantage of all of our mistakes. A lot of our mistakes are from not being ready to play and going through the motions. I’m not really thrilled with the way the guys played tonight, not going to lie.”
Jason Thurman led the way at the plate with three RBIs, while Fehseke, Gerdes and Kane Williams each had one. Landes Williams was hit with the loss after coming on in relief, going 2 1/3 innings, and allowing seven hits and six earned runs. Brandon Reichelt drew the start and gave up four hits and two earned runs over three innings.
Fort Madison is now 13-13 on the year and will take on Central Lee tomorrow back at home for a doubleheader.