No. 5 Dodgers split with Ames in baseball

With its resolve put to the test, the Fort Dodge baseball team salvaged a conference split against Ames here Monday at Ed McNeil Field.

After dropping a 7-5 decision in the opener, the fifth-ranked (Class 4A) Dodgers (11-4 overall, 5-1 in the CIC Northern Division) bounced back with a 9-5 victory in the nightcap.

Junior Cory Alexander’s RBI infield single plated Parker Van Zyl with the eventual winning run for FDSH in the second game. Despite committing three costly defensive miscues, the Dodgers still managed to rally from a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the fifth.

“For whatever reason, I don’t think we were ready to play from the get-go, and that comes down on me and the rest of the coaching staff to make sure we’re ready to roll,” Fort Dodge head coach Blake Utley said. “On the positive side, we responded after getting beat in Game 1 for the first time all season. JC (Hatcher) stepped up and led the way for us.”

Hatcher (4-0) pitched the first six innings in the win, yielding five hits and one earned run. The junior right-hander walked three and fanned four.

Alexander notched the final three outs in relief.

Offensively, Hatcher also helped his own cause with two doubles, a single and a RBI out of the cleanup spot. Van Zyl and Alexander each delivered two hits, while Van Zyl and Kole Kampen both crossed the dish twice.

Nate Sunken added two RBI, and Austin Halligan swiped three bases, including a rare steal of home in the second.

“We put all the pressure on (the Little Cyclones) in that second game (Fort Dodge’s last three runs were all unearned),” said Utley. “It wasn’t a happy day overall for the Dodger baseball program, but at least we were able to get a split so we’ll have to take it.”

In the first contest, FDSH trailed throughout after spotting the Little Cyclones (9-8, 2-3) an early two-run advantage.

Halligan went 2-for-4, while Van Zyl contributed a two-RBI single. Senior Tyler Vaughn (3-2) suffered the loss, allowing nine hits and five earned runs over six frames. He walked one and whiffed four.

Andrew Stover worked a scoreless seventh out of the bullpen.

“Give credit to Ames because they can swing the bats, but we were just constanly behind in the count at either 2-0 or 3-1,” Utley said. “Our pitching and defense just didn’t get the job done. We had five errors on the day, which is not going to get the job done.”

Despite shaky defensive play, Sunken made a sparkling catch at the left-field wall in Game 1. Right fielder Keegan Gormally also robbed the visitors of a potential run with a diving grab of his own.

Fort Dodge has now prevailed in 10 of the past 12 meetings against Ames, dating back to the 2010 season.

Putting their unbeaten 7-0 road mark on the line, the Dodgers visit Des Moines Roosevelt this evening for a makeup doubleheader.