Sandoval goes deep in 7th but rally falls short for Hawks
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Kane Williams went five full innings and struck out 11 as Fort Madison opened the year with a 6-4 win over Central Lee Monday night in Fort Madison.
Williams also went 2 for 3 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored, including a key RBI single in the bottom of the fourth that sparked a 3-run inning.
With Fort Madison already leading 3-0, Hound catcher Caden Barnes hit a one-out single back up the middle. Jordan Simpson would fan for the second out. Brennan Ulik, pinch running for Barnes, would swipe second and then Landes Williams would hit another infield single off pitcher Cory Jones to put runners at the corners.
Kane Williams’ sharp single to center scored Ulik and moved Landes Williams to 3rd. Kane Williams would steal second with Tate Johnson at the plate. Central Lee would suffer a throwing error on a set up for Williams’ steal attempt, allowing Landes to advance from third for what would prove to be the game-winning run.
Johnson would then line through the right side of the infield, scoring Kane Williams, before Tanner Settles fanned to end the threat.
Kane Williams would get two strikeouts in the top of the fifth with two runners on, but a double steal from Jones and Corbin Pohren put runners in scoring position. Alex Sandoval would then pop up behind second. The ball was misplayed allowing Jones and Pohren, who were moving on contact, to score the Hawks’ first two runs.
Tanner DeMoss followed up with a single to center that Johnson just missed on a diving play, allowing Sandoval to score to close the gap to 6-3. A pop-up to third retired the side stranding DeMoss.
Neither team did any damage in the sixth, but Sandoval made things interesting when he drove a Matt Hopper fastball over the right field fence on a line drive to cut the lead to 6-4. But, after a visit to the mound by FM Head Coach Ron Walker, Hopper induced a fly out to right field and a ground out to get the save.
Hopper threw two innings, fanning two and giving up two hits, while walking one. Williams’ line was five innings, four hits, three runs – none earned, 11 Ks, and three walks.
Sandoval led the Hawks at the plate going 2-for-4 with the homer and an RBI. Catcher Kayden Calfee also had two hits for Central Lee. Pohren and Jones each had a hit on the night.
DeMoss went two innings giving up one hit and three runs, two earned, while walking four. James Hemingsen went 1 2/3 allowing a hit, one run, and striking out four. Jones went the final 2 1/3 allowing three hits and two earned runs while fanning three and walking two.
Walker said he didn’t plan to use Williams that deep into the game.
“Absolutely not. He was out of the inning 15-20 pitches before that and we misplayed a popup up and that opened the floodgates for about three runs. I gotta take partial blame. I wanted to go defense that inning, but wanted to see one more at bat and talked myself into a bad decision,” Walker said.
“But it was vintage Bloodhound baseball. We had a couple hard 90s for some infield hits and then we do a hit-and-run and got one into the gap. Then Tate hits one through the four hole. So, a lot of little things people don’t see that I thought we did well for our first game.”
Walker said using Barnes at catcher has allowed him to backfill with Kane and Landes Williams, who rotated in the battery the past three years.
“We had a talk last winter and (Barnes) has got a chance to be a big part of this team. He has a great arm and obviously we’ve got holes to fill from last year,” Walker said. “Obviously he’s very strong and you can’t teach that.”
The Hawks (0-1, 0-0) host Danville Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Fort Madison (1-0, 0-0) is off Tuesday and travels to Van Buren for a 7 p.m. game at the Mildred and Eddie Ferguson Sports Complex.