Comets strand 11 in district final loss to Boone, edge DCG in district semis

Joe Randleman Staff Writer
North Polk second baseman Ryan Spaulding gets ready to flip the ball over to first after coming up with a ground ball in the Comets’ 3-2 Class 3A district final loss to Boone in eight innings Monday at Alleman.

ALLEMAN - Failure to take advantage of early scoring opportunities came back to haunt No. 10 North Polk in a 3-2 loss to Boone in eight innings during the Class 3A district baseball championship round Monday in Alleman.

The Comets took a 2-0 lead through 2 ½ innings, but they stranded five base runners over the first three frames and 11 for the game. That opened the door for a Boone comeback and the Toreadors eventually tied the game in the sixth, and after neither team scored in the seventh, the game went into an extra inning.

Boone eventually prevailed in the bottom of the eighth when Nate McBride hit a bases-loaded single with two outs.

“You can’t win one-one ball games when you don’t hit the baseball with guys in scoring position,” North Polk head baseball coach Dave Middleton said. “That’s what it came down to.”

Mason Russell drew a walk with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning to drive in North Polk’s first run. But the Comets left the bases juiced when Boone starter Spencer Turner got a big strikeout for the final out.

In the top of the third North Polk chased out Turner after Ben Rupe singled, Colten Parkins reached on an error, Jeff Lamp hit an RBI sacrifice fly and Matthew Antle walked. But Spencer Wilkening came in for the Toreadors and got the final two outs with runners on the corners to limit the damage.

Boone pulled within 2-1 in the bottom of the third on an RBI single from Tanner Schminke after Dresden Wilson hit a two-out double for the Toreadors. The scored stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth, when Tanner Frost hit a one-out double and eventually scored on a Comet error with two outs.

Ben Rupe was left stranded after a leadoff single for North Polk in the top of the seventh. Colby Cupp replaced starting pitcher Jake Johnson for North Polk with a runner on and one out in the seventh and he came up with two clutch strikeouts to force the game into the eighth inning.

In the top of the eighth Adam Moxley led off with a bunt single, but he was picked off between first and second trying to steal. After Boone recorded the second out of the inning, Payton Johnson singled and Anthony Capaldo was hit by a pitch, but Wilkening forced Cupp to line out to center field to keep the score deadlocked.

North Polk got a bad break in the bottom of the eighth when Antle couldn’t come up with a bad hop after Cupp struck out Frost, allowing him to reach safely with one out. Derek Rhinehart then laid down a sacrifice bunt and Jackson Smith and Evan Appenzeller walked to load the bases and set up McBride’s game-winner.

“We pitched well and played pretty well, but we got caught up in the moment,” Middleton said. “I think we got a little nervous here and there. That’s just part of the intensity.”

A bad practice on Sunday may have affected North Polk’s play on Monday.

“I’m a firm believer you’re going to be as good as your last practice,” Middleton said. “We were coming off that nice win against DCG and we just never got after it. We just didn’t think mental baseball.”

“There were several things that went on during the course of an eight-inning game that if we’d shored it up a little bit, we might have had a little bit better chance of winning,” Middleton said. “Part of that is on the coach. You’ve got to have them ready and I’m just not sure we were ready.”

Cupp took the loss despite giving up just one unearned run on one hit and two walks with three strikeouts in 1 ⅓ innings. Jake Johnson threw well as the Comet starter, allowing two runs — one earned — on eight hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in 6 ⅓ innings.

Rupe went 2-for-3 with a walk and run, Cupp singled and scored, Lamp finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and Russell ended up walking once and driving in one run offensively for North Polk. Jake Johnson, Payton Johnson and Moxley each singled once, Antle drew two walks and Parkins picked up one free pass.

North Polk ended the season 25-9, a big improvement off last year’s 15-15 record.

“They had an awesome year,” Middleton said. “This one hurts, but you’ll look back and you’ll say you go what, 25-9, after being a couple years at the .500 level. The senior kids have just been awesome and the kids below them have worked well and done some nice things.”

Boone improved to 21-10 with the win.

Wilkening struck out three and surrendered three hits and one walk in 5 ⅔ innings as the winning Toreador pitcher against North Polk. Wilson went 2-for-4 with a double and run, McBride ended up 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and Frost was 1-for-4 with two runs as Boone’s top performers with the bat.

Boone 3, North Polk 2

NP 101 000 00 - 2 7 1

B 001 001 01 - 3 9 2

NP: Jake Johnson, Colby Cupp (7) and Matthew Antle.

B: Spencer Turner, Spencer Wilkening (3) and Jackson Smith.

WP: Wilkening.

LP: Cupp.

2B: B - Smith, Dresden Wilson, Tanner Frost, Nate McBride.

ALLEMAN - North Polk survived a big scare from Dallas Center-Grimes in the Class 3A district semifinals Friday as the Comets needed a late rally to get past the Mustangs in nine innings, 3-2.

North Polk was on the verge of defeat entering the bottom of the seventh inning. They trailed 2-0 after only mustering four hits off Mustang pitcher Brett Foreman.

In the bottom of the seventh, North Polk went down to its final out. Jake Johnson drew a leadoff walk, but Foreman retired the next two Comet hitters.

With the game on the line, Colby Cupp and Ben Rupe delivered big-time for North Polk.

Cupp tripled to score courtesy runner Reid Summers and Rupe followed with a single, sending Cupp home with the tying run.

DCG relief pitcher Logan Smith got the final out in the seventh to keep the score tied. Cupp came in for starting North Polk pitcher Colten Parkins and worked around two walks in the top of the eighth to keep the Mustangs off the board, but the Comets were unable to capitalize offensively in the bottom of the inning.

Cupp retired DCG in order in the top of the ninth. The bottom of the inning saw North Polk’s Anthony Capaldo hit a leadoff single and Cupp follow with another clutch hit, this time a single to put runners on first and second.

Rupe also delivered another timely hit with a single to load the bases with no outs. Smith struck out Parkins, but then Jeff Lamp hit a ground ball that sent Capaldo home with the winning run.

Cupp ended up 4-for-5 with one run and RBI apiece and Rupe went 2-for-5 with an RBI to lead North Polk’s nine-hit attack on offense. Capaldo singled and scored, Parkins singled and walked twice, Mason Russell was 1-for-3 and Matthew Antle and Johnson each walked twice.

Cupp struck out three, walked two and didn’t give up a hit in two scoreless relief innings as the winning pitcher. Parkins allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts in seven innings.

Smith surrendered one run on three hits and one walk with one strikeout in 1 ⅔ innings as the losing DCG pitcher. Foreman allowed two earned runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 6 ⅔ innings.

Cade Bertrand doubled and drove in a run, Smith picked up an RBI, Jordan Humphreys and Isaac Boley each scored once and Justin Biegger was 2-for-4 with a double for DCG at the plate. The Mustangs ended the season at 10-21.

North Polk 3, DCG 2 (9)

DCG 001 001 000 - 2 5 3

NP 000 000 201 - 3 9 1

DCG: Brett Foreman, Logan Smith (7) and Brandon Risius.

NP: Colten Parkins, Colby Cupp (8) and Matthew Antle.

WP: Cupp.

LP: Smith.

2B: DCG - Cade Bertrand, Justin Biegger.

3B: NP - Cupp.

BONDURANT - A great night from pitcher Clark Hood and quality hitting at the top of the order lifted North Polk past Bondurant-Farrar, 4-1, to end the regular season July 12 at Bondurant.

The Comets broke a scoreless tie with a run in the third, added two scores in the fourth and tacked on another in the sixth. Bondurant-Farrar’s only score came in the bottom of the sixth.

Hood gave up one earned run on four hits with just one walk. He struck out five, going all seven innings to get the win.

Leadoff hitter Colby Cupp was 2-for-3 with two runs and RBI and No. 3 hitter Colten Parkins ended up 2-for-3 with one run, one walk and two RBI for North Polk on offense. Hood singled and walked; Ben Rupe, Jeff Lamp, Tyler Sinclair and Dawson Deitch each singled once; Quinton MCarthur scored one run and Adam Moxley, Payton Johnson, Jake Johnson and Matthew Antle each drew a walk.

Will Hoyle gave up three runs — one earned — on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts in four innings as the losing Bluejay pitcher. Tanner Bedier was 2-for-3 with a run and Tyler Flannery doubled and drove in a run for Bondurant-Farrar on offense.

North Polk 4, Bondurant-Farrar 1

NP 001 201 0 - 4 9 1

BF 000 001 0 - 1 4 2

NP: Clark Hood and Matthew Antle.

BF: Will Hoyle, Tyler Flannery (5) and Hogan McIntosh.

WP: Hood.

LP: Hoyle.

2B: BF - Flannery.

ALLEMAN - North Polk clinched a share of the Heart of Iowa Conference championship with a 6-2 victory over Greene County July 10 at Alleman.

The Comets pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of six errors, finishing 13-3 in the HOIC to tie No. 4 (Class 3A) Saydel for the conference title.

North Polk scored three times in the bottom of the third inning to go in front to stay. Greene County came back with two runs in the fourth, but the Comets scored twice in the bottom of the inning, added another run in the sixth and kept the Rams off the board over the final three innings.

Jake Johnson went all seven frames as the winning North Polk pitcher. Johnson only allowed two hits and walks apiece, giving up one earned run.

Colten Parkins went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Colby Cupp finished 1-for-4 with one run and RBI apiece, Adam Moxley singled and drove in a run and Johnson doubled and walked at the plate for North Polk. Jeff Lamp went 1-for-4 with two runs; Ben Rupe, Matthew Antle and Payton Johnson each singled and Reid Summers and Sutton Sears each scored once.

Ben Wilkens allowed three unearned runs on four hits and one walk with one strikeout in three innings as the losing Greene County pitcher. Tom Gannon and Wade Adcock each singled, Wilkens and Jordan Patterson both scored and Austin Delp drove in one run for the Rams.

North Polk 6, Greene County 2

GC 000 200 0 - 2 2 6

NP 003 201 X - 6 10 2

GC: Ben Wilkens, Austin Delp (4), Dylan Fouch (6) and Tom Gannon.

NP: Jake Johnson and Matthew Antle.

WP: Johnson.

LP: Wilkens.

2B: NP - Johnson.