URBANDALE – In a game that was moved from Principal Park to Urbandale’s Little League fields, Orient-Macksburg (2-5) lost to Bluegrass Conference leader Ankeny Christian (4-2) 13-1 in five innings Thursday.
Looking forward to playing in the Chicago Cubs’ triple-A affiliate Iowa Cubs’ park, O-M head coach Drew Dornack said the team was excited but was “let down” when they found out the game wouldn’t be played in Principal Park due to an employee at the park testing positive for COVID-19.
With a new site, the Bulldogs put junior Blake Thompson on the mound to try and stop the high-powered Eagle offense.
Ankeny Christian entered the game hitting .291 with a .488 on-base percentage and .345 slugging percentage. Dornack said stopping the Eagles’ offense was going to be a tough task.
The early innings saw Thompson using his fastball often, but struggling to command his pitches. Thompson hit four batters in the first three innings. With runners reaching frequently, Ankeny Christian didn’t waste time running on the Bulldogs.
The Eagles tallied eight stolen bases and advanced on three passed balls through the five innings played.
Against a heavy-hitting lineup and aggressive base running, O-M’s catchers call the games, especially with veterans like Thompson on the mound.
“Blake is an old guy, just like Wiley (Ray) is an old guy,” Dornack said. “They have a feel. Really, they’re calling, but Chase (Walker), he does a nice job and calls a good game. We may talk a game plan a little bit here and there, but Ankeny Christian just put it in the gaps.”
The bottom of the first saw two stolen bases, two hit batters and one passed ball. A combination of ground balls to Ray at third base for fielder’s choice RBIs and a two-out two-RBI base hit from Ankeny Christian’s Logan Fincham put O-M in a 4-0 hole after the first inning.
Ankeny Christian added another run in the second inning on an error from shortstop Derek Gross. The Bulldogs limited the damage with a double play from a sharp-hit ground ball to Wiley Ray.
For the third consecutive inning, O-M’s offense put a runner on-base but couldn’t move him around to score. Walker walked in the third inning and Vinh Nguyen walked in the second.
Despite the early season struggles, Dornack said he has confidence in the top end of the lineup to figure things out, even if the productivity hasn’t carried over from last season.
“Our hitting is not in mid-season form,” Dornack said. “We’re really trying to focus hard on trying to get them to be smart in the box – not necessarily bury themselves – and put nice solid swings on.”
One through six in the lineup finished 1-for-11 with a single and hit by pitch from Walker and a walk from Rawlings.
O-M gained some momentum after the bottom of the third. Thompson stranded a runner at third and struck out the side after hitting a batter to finish the third inning. Offensively, in the top of the fourth, Zayden Rawlings drew another walk for the Bulldogs.
Rawlings stole second and third to put himself in scoring position for Nguyen. After a long at-bat, seeing multiple two-strike foul balls, Nguyen hit a ball to second base. The second baseman misplayed the ball, allowing Rawlings to score and cut the deficit to 5-1.
Dornack said he felt after Nguyen scored, the game had the chance to turn around and O-M would get back in it.
As Thompson’s pitch count continued to rise, two key errors to begin the bottom of the fourth put the Bulldogs in a tough spot. A pop up behind second base that wasn’t called and a hard shot that got under Ray’s glove at third put two runners on to start the inning.
Thompson came out after 3 2/3 innings and Walker took over. Thompson tallied four strikeouts and four walks.
“They’re a good hitting ball club,” assistant coach Sam Kornstad said. “(Thompson) kept the ball in the zone, walked a few people, hit a few people, but other than that, that’s stuff we can work on in our bullpen. Other than that, I’ve got to tip my cap to them. They’re a good hitting team.”
Ankeny Christian’s bats started to pour on quality at-bats after the two errors, and they began hit the ball harder.
Five hits in the inning accounted for eight runs in the inning to extend the lead to the final score, 15-1.
“We have another top team coming tomorrow (Friday), so we’ve got to put this one away and get ready for Lamoni,” Dornack said.
UP NEXT – Orient-Macksburg faces Lamoni today (Friday) at 5 p.m.
Ankeny Christian 13, Orient-Macksburg 1
R H E
OM 000 10X X — 1 1 3
AC 410 8XX X — 13 11 3
OM: Blake Thompson 3 2/3IP 4Ks 4BB, Chase Walker 2/3IP 0K 0BB and Walker, Cody Kiddoo. AC: Logan Fincham 5IP 6Ks 3BB and Cale Leever. W - Fincham. L - Thompson. HR — None. 3B —AC: Leever (1), Malachi Johnson (1). 2B —AC: Ben McDermott (1), Eli Christensen (1). RBI — AC: Leever (3), McDermott (2), Fincham (2), Gabe Worsham (2), Nic Worsham (1), Johnson (1), Christensen (1). Multiple hits — AC: Johnson (2), Christensen (2), McDermott (2), Nic Worsham (2),