No. 7 Dodgers sweep Mohawks

No. 7 (Class 4A) Fort Dodge easily took care of business against rival Mason City here Monday at McNeil Field.

Relying on a pair of impressive pitching performances, the Dodger baseball team (9-2 overall, 4-0 in the CIC Northern Division) swept a conference doubleheader from the Mohawks by scores of 9-2 and 10-0.

Senior Tyler Vaughn and junior JC Hatcher each went the distance on the mound for the home squad, combining for 24 strikeouts. Vaughn (3-1) fanned a career-high 13, while allowing just five hits, one walk and two earned runs in the opener, throwing 71 of 99 pitches for strikes. Hatcher (3-0) also set a new personal best with 11 whiffs in the six-inning nightcap.

The junior right-hander scattered five hits with one free pass in his first-ever shutout, firing 59 of 94 pitches for strikes.

“It always makes it a lot easier for the defense when you can come out and pitch well,” FDSH head coach Blake Utley said. “When (the opponents) don’t score, it’s hard for them to win. I was proud of both Tyler and JC.

“After having a week off, they looked sharp and had good command out there.”

Hatcher, a No. 5 batter, went a perfect 3-for-3 offensively with a double, three RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in the first game.

Nathan Sunken, a senior, also collected two hits and crossed the dish twice. Classmate Parker Van Zyl added his first career longball – a two-out, two-run shot – in the bottom of the first.

Eight of Fort Dodge’s nine runs were of the unearned variety, as the Mohawks (3-4, 0-3) committed six pivotal defensive miscues. The Dodgers, who played errorless baseball in the twinbill, erupted with a four-spot in the first and never looked back.

“We still have a lot of room for improvement and can definitely sharpen up some things,” said Utley. “(Last night) we took some more steps in the right direction.”

Without skipping a beat, FDSH jumped out to an early 2-0 edge in the second contest. Hatcher actually helped his own cause at the plate with a walk-off two-run single to center field, bringing home Cory Alexander and Devon Harms.

Van Zyl blasted a three-run roundtripper to deep left in the third, while senior Tommy Halligan was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Austin Halligan, a sophomore, notched a double, RBI, run scored and stolen base.

“We challenged our guys before the bottom of the sixth inning to finish with more hits than (the Mohawks), which we were able to do at 6-5,” Utley said. “We’ll find out a lot more about ourselves, though, on Wednesday when Dowling comes to town. (DCHS) coach (Tim) O’Neill always has a good team, so we’ll need to be ready to go.”

Since the start of last season, Fort Dodge has now prevailed in the last six meetings against the Mohawks after dropping six of the previous seven encounters.

In their nine victories this year, the defending state runner-up Dodgers have outscored their foes by a combined margin of 87-12.

Winners of six straight games, FDSH welcomes the sixth-ranked (4A) Maroons (6-2) for a doubleheader on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. The Dodgers went 2-0 against Dowling last summer, including a 5-4 comeback victory in the state quarterfinals.