BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Lightening put about an hour pause on the Bloodhounds’ baseball action Monday, but it may not have been the most powerful force of the night.
The Hounds blasted away at Keokuk all night for a 10-0 and 21-2 doubleheader sweep over the Chiefs to move Fort Madison to 6-2 on the year.
The only losses were splits with Class 3As No. 2 ranked Davenport Assumption and a split in the Southeast Conference season opener with Washington. Fort Madison held leads in both of the losses.
Tate Johnson and Vasin Thurman both went 3 of 4 in the opener Monday night. Matt Hopper went the distance getting the shut out. The junior scattered just four hits while striking out nine and walking two.
Fort Madison jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead when lead-off hitter Landes Williams drew a walk and was driven in when Jason Thurman laced a triple past Keokuk’s Liam O’Donnell in center. Thurman would score on Vasin Thurman’s sac fly in the next at bat.
Johnson would double down the right field line, but would get stranded on a strike out to end the inning.
The Hounds would get one run each in the bottom of the 2nd, 4th and 5th before lightning delayed the game.
Fort Madison would get Keokuk in order in the top of the sixth and then tack on five runs in the bottom half to set the 10-run rule after 5 innings.
Hopper and Aiden Pennock would lead off the inning with a couple singles. Williams would make it three in a row to drive in courtesy runner Aiden Mitchell, before Jason Thurman reached on an error on a grounder to short loading the bases.
Vasin Thurman then hit a fly over O’Donnell’s head in center to score Pennock and Williams to make it 8-0 with no outs. Reiburn Turnbull would ground out to second, but get the RBI for Thurman. Johnson would then hit a game-winning triple to left-center scoring Vasin Thurman. Johnson had thoughts of an inside-the-park homer but was held up at 3rd with the game already settled.
Vasin Thurman had 3 RBI in the first game. Williams, Johnson and Turnbull had 2 RBI each.
Head Coach Ron Walker said the Hounds made some nice adjustments to Keokuk’s off-speed game from the mound.
“We made some nice adjustments to the slower velocity, letting the ball travel a bit. I thought we made another nice adjustment after the rain delay when we were struggling just a bit, but then came out and put up five that inning to finish the game off,” he said.
In the nightcap, the Hounds scored early and often tagging Keokuk starter Josh Wills with five runs on just two hits with the Chiefs defense committing four errors in the first inning and a third.
Reliever Andrew Seabold got treated even more rudely with the Hounds scoring 16 runs, 13 in the 2nd inning. Holding a 3-0 lead going into the bottom half of the 2nd, the Hounds put 12 batters in a row on the base paths scoring 11 runs, nine before the first out was recorded.
In the onslaught Vasin Thurman and Colton Engeman both doubled driving in two runs each. With the bases loaded Landes Williams hit a line drive right at first baseman Cole Gillenwater who snagged it and doubled off Aiden Pennock.
The Chiefs would also commit four errors in six plays to allow three runs to score. It wasn’t until Garrett Hannum lined out to short to end the inning where the Hounds hit through the lineup twice with 18 hitters coming to the plate, scoring 13 runs. Fort Madison would put up five more in the bottom of the third and Vasin Thurman would shut things down in the top of the fourth to invoke the 15-runs-after-4-innings mercy rule.
Walker was able to work 15 different players to the plate in the second game. He said those at bats are critical for the programs future.
“That’s what we talked about after the game. Not only are we developing depth for this year, but we’re developing depth in the future of our program. Getting to play with some of these experienced players we have was good for the younger kids,” Walker said.
“It wasn’t just about tonight or two weeks down the road, but for the longevity of the program. And they stepped in and did a great job.”
Walker said he’s happy with where the Hounds are eight games into the season.
“I like where we’re at. We throw strikes, but our key is our defense. Up at Washington we booted the ball around a little bit,” he said. “We’re not a strikeout team, so we gotta make the plays. Just like tonight’s first inning of game one, we walked the lead off hitter and then turned a 6-4-3 double play.”
Williams and Turnbull combined for five hits and eight RBI in the night cap to lead Fort Madison. Hopper went 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.
Hannum got the win going two innings and striking out three. Turnbull worked 2/3 of an inning and Vasin Thurman pitched the final four outs for the Hounds, who travel to Mediapolis on Wednesday for a junior varsity/varsity doubleheader.