Hounds open season with a nod to the future

Fort Madison gets strong outings from 8th graders in win over Mediapolis


MEDIAPOLIS -  The Fort Madison Bloodhounds boys baseball team opened the season with a soggy 6-1 win over Mediapolis Tuesday night on the road.
The Hounds open the year with 2nd-year head coach Albert Schinstock at the helm after serving three years as assistant with the program.
Mediapolis got on the board first when Jackson Hutcheson scored on a passed ball with two outs. Hutcheson led off the for the Bulldogs with a single to right.
That would be all the scoring through five innings as juniors Luke Hellige and Tateum Schelich, along with incoming freshman Stefan Berlett, worked the mound for the Hounds without giving up another run. Schelich would get the win after the Hounds broke things open in the top of the 7th.
Senior Hunter Cresswell got Fort Madison on the board in the top of the 6th with a one-out infield single to short that plated Brody Cashman. Hellige would fan and Schelich would line out to end the frame tied at 1.
Schelich would put a couple runners on in the bottom half of the sixth allowing a single and plunking a runner, but a line out to Cashman in center ended the threat.
Then Fort Madison took advantage of a couple walks to Case Fraise and Ames Schinstock. Incoming freshman Reece Huey bunted both into scoring position with a fielder’s choice that arrived too late to catch Huey. Fraise would then score on a wild pitch that would prove to be the game winner. But the play also allowed the other runners to advance before another incoming freshman, Owen Huffman, singled to right to score two more for a 4-1 Bloodhound lead.
Cashman would fan for the first out. Junior Aiden Mitchell would  wear one, and Cresswell popped out in foul territory for the second out with Huffman and Mitchell both on. Hellige would drive both in with a hard single to center, driving in the games final two runs.
Schelich would give up a single to open the bottom half of the 7th, but then would get three runners in order to preserve the win.
Hutcheson went 4-4 for the Bulldogs as the top hitter on the night. Cresswell, Hellige, Schelich, Schinstock, and Huffman all collected hits for the Hounds. Hellige had two RBIs on the night.
He also went two innings giving up one hit and a run with none earned while fanning two. Berlett pitched just one inning and gave up two hits while striking out two. Schelich (1-0) struck out two, walked one, and gave up four hits over four innings for Fort Madison.
The Hounds are playing with some inexperience with just one senior in Cresswell, but Schinstock said at Monday’s media day that the lineup will change, but he has some incoming freshmen that will get some time on the diamond.
“We’ll be a lot younger. Hunter is our only senior. We don’t really know what we have on varsity, so for the first two weeks we’re running with a tentative roster,” Schinstock said. “We have three 8th graders on that and I’m sure there might be a couple of them starting.  They’re good ball players. Early on they’ll be overmatched at the plate, but defensively they’ll be fine.
“That’s not saying they are going to stay there. There are kids competing for those positions and I like the competition that’s been going on.”
Schinstock’s Hounds went 10-19 last year without Hellige being able to throw as he let an elbow heal up.
Fort Madison has historically manufactured runs with solid baserunning and timely hitting and bunting, but has struggled finding power in the lineup. Cresswell and Hellige each had just one home run and those were the only long balls from Fort Madison in 2023.
“We don’t have any power. We have Luke, Caden, and Hunter, they’re gap hitters though, not really home run hitters. So it will be a lot of bunting and small ball like usual.”
Schelich said he’s looking forward to the season in all facets. He helps anchor the middle infield defense from short, while also seeing time on the mound.
“We’re just looking to win games like usual. Play games, have fun, and try to win. We’ve all played together since we were young. We have good chemistry. It will come down to playing together and not getting down on each other,” he said.
“Kane (Williams) and I worked really hard up the middle last year and that was fun. Albert put a lot of trust in us and we ran with that. This year I’m getting to know my other middle infielder next to me and that’s what playing there is all about.”
Cresswell said it may take some time for the team to find its identity with the young players involved.
“We’re a little younger this year. We’ve got a lot of open spots and we’re not sure who’s gonna fill those. We have a couple good 8th graders.”
Fort Madison has penciled in a game Wednesday night at Van Buren County and then host Central Lee on Monday.
The Hawks are coached by Shane Weirather and have added former Bloodhound skipper Ron Walker to the staff. Walker was at Van Buren last year as they advanced to the state tournament.

Fort Madison, Bloodhounds, Hounds, baseball, preview, Mediapolis, win, Albert Schinstock, coach, Tateum Schelich, Luke Hellige,


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