BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison Bloodhounds used a big eight-run sixth inning to win game one and split a doubleheader 11-7, 6-7 with Burlington Monday night at home.
The split leaves the two teams tied at 7-3 in the loop play good enough for second place in the Southeast Conference standings. Fort Madison is 9-6 overall while Burlington stands at 14-4. Both trail sizzling No. 9 Fairfield which is 10-0 in loop play and 18-1 on the year.
Lauryn Helmick (3-0) went all seven innings in the opener giving up eight runs, six earned on 11 hits and five walks, while striking out nine.
Logan Johnson led Fort Madison at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Kylee Cashman was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Neely Rehm had double and drove in three. Emily Steffensmeier, Helmick, Ivy Geerdes, Dalyn Wondra, and Allyson Helmick all had hits in the game.
The Grayhounds held a 4-2 lead going into the fourth inning when Helmick would give up a single and a walk before coaxing two fly outs to end the inning unscathed.
Fort Madison would close to within one when Lauryn Helmick doubled with two outs to left field scoring Allyson Helmick from second. Burlington’s Addessa Brandenburg, who dominated the Hounds in a loss two weeks ago, would get control and retire the side.
Burlington would get one back in the top of the fifth when Hannah Heuvelmann would stroke a two-out double to left scoring Carley McGinity who doubled to open the frame. Helmick would get Brynn Casady to strike out swinging for the third out.
Fort Madison would get a walk and a single to start the top of the fifth, but three straight infield pop ups ended the inning. Burlington would score again to make it 7-3 in the sixth when McGinity tripled to center scoring two, again with two outs. Helmick would get a strike out to end the inning and move to the bottom half of the sixth.
Brandenburg would issue three straight walks to load the bases before Steffensmeier would single over short scoring Allyson Helmick. A throwing error on the play allowed Rehm and Lauryn Helmick to score to tie the game at 7-7 and chase Brandenberg from the mound.
Johnson would then lace a one-run single to center scoring Steffensmeier.
Kylee Cashman would work a walk and Lexi Whaley would be called out on an infield fly to second holding everyone with one out. Johnson would score on another error that moved Cashman to second, but she would get called out trying to swipe third for the second out.
Geerdes would single to center with two outs and Wondra would follow with a double to right moving Geerdes to third. Allyson Helmick worked a two-out walk to load the bases with Fort Madison up 8-7. Allyson Helmick would walk on five pitches and then Rehm would double to deep center clearing the bases for an 11-7 lead.
Burlington would manage one run in the top of the seventh, but Helmick would get Brandenburg to fly out to Wondra in left to end the game.
In the nightcap, the Bloodhounds put up three runs in the first and third inning, but Burlington countered with a four-run third to set up a game winning run in the top of the sixth.
In the sixth, Taylor Blythe would walk on four straight and would be moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Bryanna Mehaffy walked and took second with Blythe standing at third with one out. Brandenburg then singled to right scoring Blythe for what would be the game-winning run.
The Hounds would work a double play to end the inning. Fort Madison wouldn’t score in the sixth and would set the Grayhounds down in order in the seventh.
Wondra would hit a single at shortstop and moved to second on an error, and third on a wild pitch, Rehm would hit a grounder to short and Mehaffy gunned down Wondra trying to score from third for the second out. A lineout to short would end the game.
Whaley and Wondra each had two hits in the second game for Fort Madison. Lauryn Helmick and Rehm each had hits. Rehm had two RBI, for a total of five on the night. Wondra had four RBI in the loss.
Rehm (4-4) went the full seven giving up six runs, four earned on six hits and four walks, while striking out four.
The Hounds wrap up the season with a single game against Class 3A No. 14 West Burlington Thursday and then a double header with Central Lee in Donnellson Friday night.
The girls start Class 4A Regional action July 16 when the Bloodhounds host Keokuk at 7 p.m. The winner will travel to Fairfield on July 18 for a 7 p.m. matchup. The regional championship is set for July 21 at a site to be determined. The top side of the bracket has Burlington/Mt. Pleasant opening play on the 16th with the winner facing Oskaloosa at Oskaloosa.