FD boys lose two to Ankeny

Wednesday’s intriguing baseball showdown between No. 3 (Class 4A) Fort Dodge and top-ranked (4A) Ankeny ended in frustration for the home team.

Unable to avenge last summer’s state championship setback, the Dodgers (16-8 overall) were swept in a twinbill at Ed McNeil Field by scores of 9-3 and 10-2.

“We definitely have some room to get better, but (yesterday) was still only June 26, and we know we won’t be playing our best baseball until July,” FDSH head coach Blake Utley said. “Ankeny’s a good team that’s in our substate, but our guys are not leaving the park thinking all hope is lost.”

Freshman Kole Kampen, a No. 8 batter in the order, staked the Dodgers to an early edge in Game 1, blasting his first career varsity longball – a two-run shot – to right field in the second inning. After Fort Dodge later tacked on an insurance score in the third on a Hawks’ throwing error, the visitors immediately responded with a three-run roundtripper by Collin Shultice.

FDSH never led again the rest of the evening.

“(Ankeny) just doesn’t get cheated on their swings and always seems to make good contact on the ball,” said Utley. “They can score in bunches, which is what we knew coming in. Hitting is very contagious, and their guys definitely showed that.”

Keegan Gormally went 2-for-3 at the dish for the Dodgers, who stranded 11 baserunners – with six of those in scoring position. Fort Dodge, which failed to take advantage of five Ankeny defensive miscues, actually left the bags full in both the third and seventh frames.

“We constantly talk about execution and finding a way to sharpen our focus and not make situations bigger than what they are,” Utley said. “(The Hawks) really made us pay for the few mistakes we did make.”

Shultice, a No. 9 hitter, also crushed another three-run bomb in the sixth, finishing 2-for-4 with six RBI and two runs scored. University of Arkansas recruit Keaton McKinney delivered three hits, including a double, homer, two RBI and a run. Tanner Clayberg and Oakland University signee Nate Schweers each collected a pair of hits, while Matt Johnson went deep as well.

In the nightcap, Tommy Halligan, Tyler Vaughn, Devon Harms, Andrew Stover and Gormally all recorded singles for FDSH, which was held hitless until the fifth. Vaughn and Sam Kolacia both crossed the plate once, while Gormally added a RBI.

Johnson was 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored for Ankeny (17-4), which pulled away behind a four-spot in the third. Austin Hurst notched three hits, and Cody Olson and Iowa Central recruit Tanner Buenting drove in two apiece.

JC Hatcher (4-1) and Vaughn (4-3) were the losing pitchers for the Dodgers, who fell to just 5-6 at home this season. Fort Dodge was outhit in the doubleheader, 27-12.

Both Hatcher (left ankle) and Austin Halligan (right leg) were forced out of action in the fifth inning of the second contest with apparent injuries.

Next action for the Dodgers is Friday when they welcome intra-city rival St. Edmond (10-10) for a 5:30 p.m. first pitch.