Roland-Story boys drop two to Comets
The Roland-Story baseball team entered Friday afternoon with two losses in its last three games. After a doubleheader against North Polk, that rough stretch got even rougher for the Norsemen.
Roland-Story dropped both games in a doubleheader to the Comets on Friday at Norsemen Field. North Polk won a pitcher’s dual in game one, 1-0, then scored five runs in the middle innings of game two to complete the sweep, 7-2.
“This was not a good week for us,” Roland-Story coach Chris Hill said. “But the good news is we come out of it knowing what our capabilities are, and that’s what we have to roll with going into next week, our last full week of the regular season.”
The Norsemen (24-9) were riding high entering this week. After Monday’s win over South Hamilton, they had won 13 of their last 15 games, including the last five in a row. But on Tuesday, against East Marshall, the momentum came to a grinding halt.
Roland-Story lost that day, 4-2. Then the next day, to West Marshall, 5-4. The Norse rebounded to pummel Greene County on Thursday, 9-2, but the struggles returned against North Polk (13-12) on Friday.
The early game was the definition of a pitcher’s dual, as both teams combined for just four hits. Senior Tyler Hovick took the mound for Roland-Story, and struck out seven over six innings. But he also walked four, and none were more detrimental than the one in the sixth.
North Polk loaded the bases after Hovick plunked Colby Cupp. Hovick then battled Luke Leopold to a full count. His sixth pitch proved to be a little outside, ball four, which walked in the game-winning run.
Freshman Colten Parkins pitched for the Comets, tossing a two-hit, complete-game shutout while striking out five — including two in the bottom of the fourth, when Roland-Story worked two runners into scoring position.
“Our bats have been cold of late,” Hill said. “It sometimes seems like the balls we do hit hard seem to find somebody out there and goes right to them. But that stuff takes care of itself.”
As for when it would take care of itself, Hill did not know, but it wouldn’t happen in game two.
Roland-Story took a 2-1 lead after the third inning, but the Comets put runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth. Matt Cox then poked a ball to center, which was misplayed and ultimately brought in both runners. Cox then stole both second and third, and scored on a wild pitch.
North Polk tacked on two more runs in the fifth and another in the seventh for insurance, all while Cupp and Jake Johnson combined to hold the Norse to just five hits. They totaled just seven between the two games; prior to Friday, they averaged seven per game.
“It was a bad week,” said Roland-Story junior Jake Ford, who took the loss in game two after 4.1 innings of work. “… We’re just going to have come back next week, still hit the ball hard and hopefully find some holes.”
The two losses means Roland-Story has now lost four of five games. Prior to Tuesday, Hill’s team hadn’t lost two in a row all season. They’ve now done it twice in a week.
But the Norsemen are experienced in this kind of adversity. Just last year, they lost four of five games at the end of June and into early July. Roland-Story ultimately corrected its mistakes, and won seven in a row to qualify for state for the third-straight year.
Hill believes his team is capable of a similar run this year. It’s just a matter of doing the little things right, he said.
“That team understood the importance of going out and controlling the things that you can control,” Hill said. “The mindset is the same with this group. We’ll see what we’re able to do.”
North Polk 1, Roland-Story 0
North Polk 000 001 0 — 1 2 1
Roland-Story 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
WP: Colten Parkins. LP: Tyler Hovick.
North Polk 7, Roland-Story 2
North Polk 010 320 1 — 7 13 0
Roland-Story 002 000 0 — 2 5 3
WP: Colby Cupp. LP: Jake Ford.