Comets trounce Trojans to win district title

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North Polk catcher Grant Schiltz tags out West Marshall’s Justin Weitzell in front of home plate during the Comets’ 11-3 Class 2A district final victory over the Trojans Saturday in Alleman. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Wyatt Houge tags out West Marshall’s Jared Riemenschneider in a rundown between third and home during the Comets’ district title win over the Trojans Saturday. Photo by Joe Randleman

NP survives scare versus DMC

ALLEMAN – The North Polk baseball team displayed the moxy of a team that has been to the last two state tournaments when the Comets faced West Marshall for a Class 2A district championship Saturday in Alleman.

Coming off a grueling 5-4 victory over Des Moines Christian in 10 innings to open district play four days earlier, North Polk was out of sync early against West Marshall, falling behind 3-0 after two innings. But starting in the third inning the Comets settled down and looked like a team ranked second in 2A.

North Polk dominated the final five innings to earn an 11-3 victory and advance to substate and play for the right to go to state.

“There was no doubt,” North Polk senior Jacob Hadaway said. “We stuck together as a ball team and the second time through their pitcher, we really got on to him.”

Hadaway drove in the eventual winning run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With the score knotted at 3-3, Grant Schiltz was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Brandon Cory also got plunked with two outs to put runners on first and second for Hadaway. Hadaway stepped up and ripped an RBI single to center field off West Marshall pitcher Nolan Sinning for a 4-3 Comet advantage.

“We’ve been doing well two-out hitting this year,” Hadaway said. “When you’ve got guys on with two outs, you’ve got to get runs in. It’s just staying the course and hitting the ball.”

A wild pitch allowed Cory to score from third to give North Polk a two-run lead going into the sixth.

In the top of the sixth Hadaway gave his team another lift. This time he provided a spark where he’s most lethal – on the mound.

Matt Van Metre drew a leadoff walk and Cody Berns followed with a single to lead off the top of the sixth for West Marshall. After they were sacrificed over to second and third on a bunt by Ross Randall, Comet head coach Dave Middleton elected to take out pitcher Grant Lang in favor of Hadaway.

The all-state hurler came in and did his job, striking out both Alex Billman and Justin Weitzell to keep his team’s two-run lead intact.

“I’ve pitched a lot of games here,” Hadaway said. “When you come in you’ve got to throw strikes and get the job done.”

North Polk took full advantage of the momentum swing in its favor during the bottom of the sixth inning. The Comets crushed Trojan relief pitcher Jared Riemenschneider, putting six runs on the board on four hits and with the aid of two West Marshall errors.

Russell Greene drove in the first run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The rest of the damage was done with two outs as Cory and Hadaway hit RBI singles, Wyatt Houge smacked a two-run double and Lang belted an RBI double.

“Hitting like that; it doesn’t get much better than that,” Hadaway said. “That’s what you need in the tournament; you need to be able to string hits together and score runs. It’s going to be some good momentum going into the next game. Hitting is contagious, and if you can do it like that, it’s a good thing.”

With the game well in hand Middleton put Lang back on the mound, and he worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep West Marshall off the board and seal the deal as North Polk improved to 28-4.

Lang picked up the win as he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and striking out seven with five walks. Cole Jackson was the starting pitcher for North Polk and he gave up all three West Marshall runs on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

Hadaway and Houge were both 2-for-3 at the plate and Lang finished 2-for-4. Hadaway drove in two runs and scored once, Houge scored twice and knocked in one run and Lang had two RBI.

Grant Schiltz singled and scored three times for North Polk. Reed Smith went 1-for-2 with a walk, run and RBI; Greene knocked in two runs; Cory was 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, Clay Cory singled, walked and scored and Matt Cox crossed the plate once.

Sinning gave up five runs – four earned – on six hits with one strikeout and no walks in five innings to take the loss. Riemenschneider and Dylan Petermeier both collected two hits and scored a run and Petermeier also drove in a run to pace West Marshall on offense.

North Polk 11, West Marshall 3

WM 210 000 0 – 3 6 3

NP 002 126 X – 11 10 0

WM: Nolan Sinning, Jared Riemenschneider (6), Ross Randall (6) and Jared Johnson

NP: Cole Jackson, Grant Lang (2), Jacob Hadaway (6), Lang (7) and Lang, Grant Schiltz (2), Lang (6), Schiltz (7)

WP: Lang

LP: Sinning

2B: NP – Lang, Wyatt Houge

ALLEMAN – North Polk was given a huge scare by Des Moines Christian in their Class 2A regional semifinal game July 16 in Alleman, but the Comets persevered to pull off a 5-4 victory in 10 innings.

For the first six innings of play, everything went according to plan for North Polk. Ace hurler Jacob Hadaway was overpowering the Lions and the Comets scored in three different innings to build a 4-0 lead.

But things quickly turned south for North Polk in the top of the seventh. Cole Jackson replaced Hadaway on the mound to start the inning and the Comet defense suddenly started to make mistake after mistake.

North Polk committed an uncharacteristic four errors in the inning to allow Des Moines Christian to tie the game. The Comets then went down in order in the bottom of the inning, forcing extra innings.

In the top of the eighth, Jackson retired the side in order. In the bottom of the inning Wyatt Houge drew a one-out walk, but pinch-runner Matt Cox was caught stealing at second and North Polk was unable to get on the board.

Jackson again mowed down Des Moines Christian with ease in the top of the ninth. Grant Schiltz reached on an error with two outs and stole second to give North Polk hope in the bottom of the ninth, but Reed Smith flied out to right field to end the inning.

In the top of the 10th Jackson had to work around a little bit of a jam. He issued a leadoff single to Connor Schmitt and Alex Toulouse bunted Schmitt over to second.

Jackson struck out Dillon Bruxvoort for a huge second out, but he then hit Cole Peterson with a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs. Jackson dug down deep to keep the Lions off the board as he retired Jared Popplewell on strikes to end the inning.

The bottom of the 10th saw Clay Cory hit a one-out single and advance to second on a wild pitch. After Hadaway walked Wyatt Houge singled to left field to score Cory with the winning run.

Jackson picked up the victory after allowing four unearned runs on just two hits with six strikeouts and three walks in four innings. Hadaway gave up just one hit and he had 10 strikeouts and four walks in six innings of work.

Cory and Houge were the hitting stars for North Polk. Cory was an impressive 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI and Houge went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI, including the game winner.

Clay Cory also picked up two hits and Hadaway doubled and drove in two runs. Schiltz and Smith both delivered one hit and run apiece and Russell Greene scored once for North Polk.

T.J. Sheely took the loss in relief for Des Moines Christian. Sheely gave up the winning run, allowed four hits and two walks in five innings and he also struck out two.

Schmitt started the game for the Lions and he gave up four runs – three earned – with one strikeout and one walk in 4 1/3 innings.

Sheely, Schmitt and Trey Nesbit each singled once for the only Des Moines Christian hits. Nesbit, Brandon Pemoulie, Bruxvoort and Grant Brockhouse each scored once for the Lions, who finished at 13-22.

North Polk 5, Des Moines Christian 4 (10)

DMC 000 000 400 0 – 4 3 2

NP 100 120 000 1 – 5 11 5

DMC: Connor Schmitt, T.J. Sheely (5) and Alex Toulouse

NP: Jacob Hadaway, Cole Jackson (7) and Grant Lang

WP: Jackson

LP: Sheely

2B: NP – Hadaway

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