BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – Fort Madison’s offense came alive in a three-hour, four inning 18-3 win over the Burlington Grayhounds’ Thursday night at Community Field.
The game started 40 minutes late as ground crews worked up the field following a five-inning junior varsity game. Then at the end of three, umpires left the field after incorrectly calling the game on a 15-run rule with Fort Madison up 18-3, causing another 35 minute delay.
However, IHSAA rules state “any varsity game involving a 15 or more run differential after 3 ½ innings if the home team is ahead, or 4 innings if the visiting team is ahead will be terminated.”
As BHS coaches wandered the venue looking for the men in black, the teams meandered around the field throwing catch before play resumed.
Fort Madison hurler Landes Williams saved the world from a four-hour, four-inning affair by striking out the first two hitters in the top of the fourth, despite a couple BHS singles to threaten extending the game.
BHS senior Bret Masters blooped a 1-2 pitch over third base in what looked to be the hit BHS needed to get another inning, but Fort Madison’s Vasin Thurman made an overhead catch running backwards toward the foul line to end it.
Williams threw all four innings in his first start, including returning to the mound after the delay. The freshman struck out five against two walks, and gave up six hits with all three runs earned.
Williams said the delay didn’t affect him too much.
“I played catch twice during the break and worked on my curve ball trying to get that working,” Landes said. “I didn’t have all my stuff tonight, but I had the fastball. I didn’t really have good location on my curve or change up.”
Head Coach Ron Walker said he had faith in Williams going back out on the mound.
“He’s a competitor and stayed loose. He had a short leash that last inning to keep pitches under 70. But I have a lot of confidence in him and the break really wasn’t much longer than some of the innings he was down.”
Walker was referring to fact that the Hounds worked at least nine hitters through each of the first three innings before being retired in order in the fourth.
Garrett Hannum led the charge for the Hounds going 2 for 2 with five RBI, including a two-run single in the bottom of the second that scored Tate Johnson and Kane Williams.
Landes Williams and Vasin Thurman each had a couple hits and 2 RBI. Thurman and Tate Johnson each scored three times for Fort Madison.
“We’ve really be talking a lot of hitting here lately. Garrett in the nine hole, Tate Johnson in the six hole, Hopper at eight, they all squared some balls up. Hannum had some key two-out hits that helped keep the pressure on,” Walker said.
Fort Madison jumped out to a quick first inning getting all over Grayhound senior starter Trenton Parks. Williams, Brandon Reichelt, and Vasin Thurman all singled. Reiburn Turnbull would then reach on an error that scored Williams, and loaded the bases.
Johnson then lined a double down the third base line clearing the bases for a 4-0 lead. Johnson and Kane Willams would score on Hannum’s two-out single to right center before Landes Williams flied to center to end the inning with Fort Madison up 6-0.
Williams pitched a one-two-three bottom half and the Hounds went back to work in the second. Jason Thurman chugged out a triple after sending one deep into the gap by the advertising boards in right. Reichelt would ground out to short, but then Parks unraveled giving up four walks to the next six hitters before giving way to Daniel Remele.
Hannum would jump on Remele for another 2 RBI single to left before a couple fielder’s choices ended the inning with Fort Madison in control 12-0.
Hunter Timmerman would get the first hit for BHS on a full count down the line in right. Fort Madison would record two outs before Hunter Johnson found some grass in left field, but Charley Carlson fanned to end the inning stranding two BHS runners.
Fort Madison picked up right where they left off in the top of the third, working three straight walks. Kane Williams would then sacrfice to center scoring Vasin Thurman. Hopper singled… Hannum walked… Williams singled… Thurman walked… Reichelt got plunked… Remele was pulled… and Vasin Thurman singled scoring a couple. Colton Engman grounded to short to end the madness with Fort Madison now leading 18-0.
BHS would get its three in the bottom of third where Landes Williams got a little loose on the mound. But he would get Matt Fort to fly out to end the frame after a two-out double to Owen Fawcett scored Brock Dengler.
Walker said the Hounds are in a decent place with the shortened pre-season.
“I’m extremely happy. Being shut down for two and half months they were doing very little, but then to come out and do two-a-days and be there at 5:30 a.m. Now we’re three weeks in and doing a great job competing.”
The Hounds are 2-1 overall and in the Southeast Conference after splitting with Mt. Pleasant in Monday’s season opener. They travel to Washington (2-1, 0-0) for a double header on Monday night.
Burlington won the junior varsity contest 3-0. Hopper was losing pitcher. Engman went 1-2 with a double. Jordan Simpson, Matt Steffensmeier and Hopper all had hits in the loss.