BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s Vasin Thurman went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and 3 RBI and then came on in relief to shut down Davis County as the Hounds rolled 16-6 Tuesday night.
Fort Madison scored in every inning but the fifth and then exploded for eight runs in a bug-infested sixth inning that had fans leaving early before the Hounds rallied for the win.
Davis County got to within two runs in the top of the sixth inning when Thurman entered in relief to start the inning and gave up a double to left field just over the glove of Garrett Hannum.
A grounder to first would move the runner over to third and then a double from Clay Collier would score a run making the score 8-6 Fort Madison with one out. Thurman would get a fly out to left and a ground out to third to retire the side.
The Hounds went to work in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Hannum singled to left and Aidan Pennock got plunked. Both would advance on a passed ball and then Colton Engeman would draw a walk on seven pitches to load the bases.
Kane Williams would work a walk for an RBI and then Landes Williams would single to center scoring two runs. Jason Thurman would draw a walk to load the bases again. Kane Williams would score on a wild pitch and then Landes Williams would come around to score on Vasin Thurman’s hard grounder to short that slipped away for a hit.
Reiburn Turnbull popped out in the infield for the second out. Jason Thurman would score on a wild pitch, and then Hannum would single again to score two more runners to invoke the 10-run rule 16-6.
The Hounds slipped into the Class 3A top 10 for the first time in more than two decades. Vasin Thurman said that’s big news for the team.
“Being in the top 10 is huge for our team. It gives us a lot of confidence to know we can play up with those other teams,” he said.
He said Davis County pitchers offered a variety of speeds that he was able to adapt to in each at bat Tuesday.
“I’m just following my approach. I didn’t see a lot of velocity, and then they gave me a couple of inside fastballs and was I ready to go early in the count. So I just got my hands ready and turned on it,” he said.
The Hounds face six conference games in the next six days that will determine the conference champs.
“We’ve got a lot left in us. We’ve got a couple big conference games coming up against Fairfield and Burlington and we want to get those four wins.
Walker said Thurman came up big in clutch situations Tuesday. But the coach said he was worried that maybe the Hounds had been seeing too much time on the field before Monday’s rain out.
“He came up big in clutch situations. I’ve been a little concerned that we’re playing too much and then we do get a day off and we come out and sweat and I’ll take the blame for that,” he said.
A few fielding miscues made Walker a little nervous going into the middle innings, but he said the Hounds were good enough to overcome the mental mistakes.
“We’re a good team, but we’re not good enough to make mistakes, Fortunately we were good enough to make mistakes and them come back and put ’em away.”
Walker used four pitchers which is rare for the Hounds who typically get four or five innings out of their starters and then go bring in relief arms.
“If it would have stayed 8-6 into the seventh, we would have had Kane come in close things up,” he said, which would have been the fifth pitcher of the night, more than the Hounds have used all year.
“We’re tired right now. A lot of that’s my fault again. I’m just getting them up and ready to play not to level of our competition, but playing Bloodhound baseball every pitch.”
Hannum, Engeman and Pennock all had multiple hit nights for Fort Madison. Pennock scored three runs, while Landes Williams, Jason Thurman, Reiburn Turnbull, Tate Johnson and Kane Williams all had hits in the win.
Hannum started and got the win going two innings and giving up two runs both earned on five hits. Landes Williams came on for an inning before giving way to Jason Thurman who threw two innings of perfect relief striking out four. Walker pulled him so he was available Wednesday in favor of Vasin Thurman would finished things up allowing two hits and an earned run.
The Hounds will host Fairfield Wednesday in a doubleheader and then travel to Mt. Pleasant on Thursday for another Southeast Conference doubleheader. A showdown with Burlington looms on Monday, July 5 for what could determine the conference championship.
Fort Madison stands at 10-2 in Southeast Conference play and 17-4 overall. The Grayhounds are 11-1 in the conference with their only loss to the Bloodhounds. Burlington is 17-5 overall.