Dodgers sweep Mohawks
Continuing to gear up for postseason play, the ninth-ranked (Class 4A) Fort Dodge baseball team earned a sweep over Mason City here Monday.
Extending their winning streak to seven straight games, the Dodgers (20-10 overall, 5-3 CIC Northern Division) prevailed by scores of 10-0 and 9-2 at Ed McNeil Field.
With the pair of victories, FDSH has now won 12 of the past 13 meetings against the Mohawks (7-21, 0-8) since the start of the 2012 campaign.
“I think our guys are having fun back at the ballpark again,” Fort Dodge head coach Blake Utley said. “We had a lot of guys with multiple hits (Monday), which was encouraging to see. I thought we came out real focused from the start.”
Senior JC Hatcher (6-1) fired his first career no-hitter in the five-inning opener for the Dodgers. The Iowa Central signee walked one and fanned four. Hatcher needed only 43 pitches to record 15 outs, throwing 32 strikes. Austin Hemmen and Drew Walswick were the only two Mason City players to reach base against Hatcher. Hemmen drew a one-out free pass in the first, while Walswick got aboard on a passed ball off a strikeout to start the fifth.
“I felt very good down in the bullpen before the game,” said Hatcher, who entered with a 1.67 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings on the year. “I was hitting all my spots and was very confident out (on the mound). This (no-hitter) is nothing too big in the long run, but it still feels pretty cool.”
Hatcher also helped his own cause offensively with a perfect 3-for-3 effort out of the No. 3 spot in the order, including a double and two RBI.
Junior Austin Halligan, senior Cory Alexander and junior Drew Hansen all contributed two hits for the home team, which plated at least two runs in all four frames it batted. Alexander drove in a pair, while sophomore Sam Cook and Hansen each scored twice.
“This is ‘Peak Week’ for the Dodgers,” Hatcher said. “We ascended last week, and it’s time to play our best ball now and ride it through the tournaments all the way to Principal Park.”
After spotting the visitors an early lead in the nightcap, Fort Dodge immediately responded with two runs of its own behind a RBI single by senior Andrew Stover and a sacrifice fly from sophomore Sam Kolacia. The Dodgers, who received at least one hit from nine different players, then tacked on one insurance score in the second, two in the fourth and four more in the sixth.
Stover went 4-for-4 at the dish with a triple, two RBI and a run, while Hansen was 3-for-3 with a double and two runs. Alexander added two hits, two runs and a RBI, and Halligan was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI
Kolacia (4-2) posted the win, scattering seven hits and two earned runs – with one walk and four strikeouts – over five innings. Sophomore southpaw Kole Kampen notched his first save of the year, working two hitless innings in relief. Kampen fanned six, with four of those coming in the final inning alone.
“Sam came out in Game 2 and struggled a little bit, but credit him for finding it,” said Utley. “The only reason we made the switch (from Kolacia to Kampen) was Sam had already thrown 90 pitches.
“It’s good to see our sophomores starting to grow, which makes things very exciting as the coach. Our seniors are really stepping up and leading by example, too.”
Defensively, Fort Dodge turned a 6-4-3 double play in Game 1 from Stover to Alexander to Thomas Hartley. Sophomore catcher Cainen Hiracheta also gunned down a Mohawk base runner on a caught stealing in the second contest.
The Dodgers outhit the Mohawks in the doubleheader, 27-7. FDSH committed three errors compared to five for Mason City.
“Every team will go through some adversity during the course of the season (the Dodgers had dropped seven consecutive games prior to their current winning streak),” Utley said. “It’s how you handle it that determines if you can come out on top.”
Next action for Fort Dodge is Wednesday when it welcomes defending 4A state champion Johnston. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.