BANCROFT - It may have taken four innings for the North Union baseball team's bats to come alive, but once they did, they were on fire as the Warriors swept the West Fork War Eagles in a doubleheader on Tuesday night in Bancroft.
The Warriors mounted a comeback after trailing 1-0 after four innings in Game 1 to win 4-1, before pouncing early in Game 2 for the 10-4 win.
"I thought that our bats weren't quite there right away in the first game. We weren't quite ready to go, and they had a good pitcher," said North Union head coach Chad Slagle.
SOLID CONNECTION — North Union batter Colin Runksmeier lines a pitch back through the box during Game 1 of an Iowa prep baseball doubleheader on Tuesday night in Bancroft, Iowa. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Garrett Johnson provided the offensive spark the Warriors needed in the first game, going 2-for-2 from the plate, including a triple and a double, scoring two runs and driving in one more.
North Union's Cody Runksmeier and West Fork's Jeff Hafermann got into a pitchers' duel for the first four innings of the opener.
Cody Runksmeier held the War Eagles scoreless, giving up just two hits through three innings.
Hafermann, likewise, was throwing heat, keeping the Warriors off the board with three hits through the first three.
The War Eagles jumped ahead first in the fourth when Spencer Halloran pounded a double to center before wheeling from second to third on a fielder's choice.
Hafermann then helped his own cause by hitting a hard grounder to second baseman Colin Runksmeier to score Halloran to go ahead 1-0.
The Warriors and Johnson then evened the game in the bottom of the fourth.
With two outs, Johnson lined a triple down the right-field line. Alex Deitering then smoked a hit through the left side of the infield to score Johnson.
A leadoff single from Sawyer Doocy started the second scoring rally for the Warriors in the sixth.
Doocy raced to second on a Spencer Ricke bunt before taking third on a wild pitch.
Johnson's second blast of the game - a double to left - scored Doocy to take the lead.
A wild pitch moved Johnson to third and Deitering drew a walk to put runners on the corners.
After a pitching change, designated hitter Brandon Kollasch dropped a bunt to score Johnson, moving Deitering to second.
Jacob Govern then hit a liner down the left-field line to score Kollasch from second to go up 4-1.
"After our bats were able to come alive and we got a few runs in the sixth inning, we took the wind out of their sails," said Slagle. "Their pitcher was doing a good job, but we were able to finally get things going."
Cody Runksmeier pitched the complete game, allowing just five hits, striking out four and walking one to earn the win.
Hafermann pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out two and walking two to take the loss. Cody Engebretson pitched the final 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits For West Fork.
Johnson then switched his focus to defense in Game 2 for the Warriors, pitching six innings and giving up four runs - two earned - on seven hits, striking out five and walking two to take the win.
The Warrior offense was potent as it blasted past the War Eagles, 10-4.
"In the first game, they had a really tough pitcher who was making us work in every at-bat," said Slagle. "Fortunately for us in the second game, the pitcher came out and was struggling to place his pitches and we were able to take advantage and get going early."
Cody Runksmeier, who finished 4-for-9 on the night from the plate, led off the six-run first inning for the Warriors with a hit to left.
After taking second on a wild pitch, Cody Runksmeier moved to third on Colin Runksmeier's grounder to first.
Doocy, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, scored Cody Runksmeier with a hit to left. After advancing to second on Ricke's hit, Doocy then motored home on Johnson's second double of the day to even the game at 2-2.
Deitering walked to load the bases and a hit from Kollasch scored both Ricke and Johnson.
Jake Adams sent a double to right, scoring Deitering for the final run of the rally.
"We were able to put them in a hole early ,which was great after our slow start in the first game," said Slagle. "The thing we need to work on now is keeping the pedal down and not letting up. Making sure we finish the game."
Kollasch was able to finish the game on the mound for the Warriors, pitching the final inning and allowing two runs on three hits, striking out one in relief.
Tanner Tuttle pitched four innings for the War Eagles, allowing seven runs - six earned - on six hits, striking out four and walking two to absorb the loss.
North Union (24-8) will open Class 2A, District 2 semifinal action against either Estherville-Lincoln Central or Sioux Central at 5 p.m. next Tuesday in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
WF 000 100 0 - 1 5 1
NU 000 103 x - 4 8 0
Cody Runksmeier (WP) and Jake Adams. Jeff Hafermann (LP), Cody Engebretson (6) and Spencer Halloran.
LOB-West Fork 4; North Union 7. 2B-Spencer Halloran (WF), Cody Runksmeier (NU) and Garrett Johnson (NU). 3B-Johnson (NU).
WF 200 100 0 - 4 10 3
NU 610 021 x - 10 11 1
Garrett Johnson (WP), Brandon Kollasch (7) and Jake Adams. Tanner Tuttle (LP), Markus Wogen (5) and Clay Emhoff.
LOB-West Fork 6; North Union 8. 2B-Spencer Halloran (WF), Garrett Johnson (NU) and Jake Adams (NU).