ANITA — Persistent miscues played the leading role in drawing the curtains on the 2017 Nodaway Valley baseball season in a 6-0 loss in the Class 1A District 13 semifinals Thursday.
The win propelled CAM (20-7) to the district final against Lenox (20-5), which will be in Anita Saturday at 7 p.m.
After flawless pitching in the first from both teams, Nodaway Valley senior Brandon Mangles bashed a screaming double over the head of Cougar left fielder Mitchell Williamson’s head to start the second inning.
From there, CAM starting pitching Thomas Hensley operated smoothly the rest of the way, not allowing a hit the rest of the game, and only two more Wolverines reached base via error.
Hensley’s mix of a well-placed fastball and offspeed pitches messed with the Wolverines’ heads all night. He struck out 11 Wolverines and allowed just one hit.
In several instances, Hensley fell behind in the count and rallied back to retire a Nodaway Valley batter by throwing curveballs for strikes.
“My curveball, it wasn’t very good early in the season,” Hensley said. “These past few games it’s just starting to click.”
The Cougars struck first in the second inning.
Consecutive errors on the right side of the infield starting Nodaway Valley down its path to seven errors.
The Cougars put up three runs in the second, thanks largely to three errors, with only one coming on a hit. Darien Burnison’s single out of the bottom of the batting order pushed CAM’s lead to 3-0.
Several more errors from the middle infield in the third prolonged the inning as two more Cougars crossed home. DeShawn Carr’s single scored Wiliamson to make the score 5-0.
In the midst of this, Nodaway Valley starting pitcher Corbin Bond was keeping the Cougars from hitting the ball hard consistently.
Wolverine mistakes just continued to be their undoing.
“At times this year it (fielding mistakes) kind of snowballed at times,” Nodaway Valley coach Dan Jameson said. “You just come out, stay down on the ball and make a throw or two early on, it’s a whole different ball game. Could have been 1-0 or extra innings. Corbin pitched a whale of a game.”
After another run in the fourth, aided by another Wolverine error, Spencer Lamb pitched scoreless ball in the fifth and sixth in relief of Bond and struck out two Cougars in the process.
Seniors Weinheimer, Mangles, Ryan Baudler, Dallas Kreager and Matthew Dickinson played their last games as Wolverines.
Jameson noted something endearing about each, from Weinheimer’s ability to track down balls in the outfield, to the personal adversity Mangles had been through, to Baudler’s hitting surge this season, to Kreager’s positive attitude in his first season on the diamond, and finally to Dickinson’s persistent optimism and positive outlook toward the game he loves being around.
Joe Herr missed much of his senior season due to injury, and Jameson noted his leadership was missed much of the season.
For Weinheimer, the reality of no longer playing baseball with his buddies resonated quickly after a postgame huddle with just the seniors after the Wolverine coaching staff had addressed the team.
Weinheimer hoped that he had lead by example, and wishes to think he helped impart some lessons upon the other players.
“We taught them how to fight hard and never give up,” Weinheimer said.
Nodaway Valley finished the season 8-17.
CAM 6, Nodaway Valley 0
R H E
NV 000 000 0 — 0 1 7
CAM 032 100 x — 6 5 2
NV: Corbin Bond 3K 0BB, Jackson Lamb (5) 2K 0BB and Tyler Vandewater. CAM: Thomas Hensley 11K 0BB and Austin Chester. W — Hensley (4-4). L— Bond (1-6). HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — NV: Brandon Mangles 1. RBI — CAM: DeShawn Carr 1. Mitchell Williamson 1. Multiple hitters — CAM: Darian Burnison 2.