Comets split doubleheader with Chickasaws
By John Burbridge
NEW HAMPTON — It was some clutch hitting that gave Charles City the lead and some outstanding defense in the later innings that enabled the Comets to hold onto a 4-3 lead while winning the first game of Thursday’s Northeast Iowa Conference doubleheader against hosting New Hampton.
But the Chickasaws responded in taking the second game (5-1) to salvage a split.
In the first game, Comet senior Kayden Blunt hit his team’s first home run of the season while helping put his team up 2-1 through two innings.
New Hampton later went up 3-2 before Brennan Schmidt’s 2-run single with the bases loaded made the score 4-3 in the top of the fourth.
In the latter half of the fourth, the Comets and starting pitcher Lincoln Joslin got out of a bases-loaded jam when Joslin was able to initiate a 1-6-3 inning-ending doubleplay.
In the bottom of the sixth with the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second with two outs, NH’s Braden McShane hit a grounder to the hole right of shortstop Blunt, who ranged over to field the ball and got McShane at first with a bang-bang call.
Then in the bottom of the seventh with Chickasaw senior Gannon Shekleton on second after a single and stolen base, Ben Gilbert hit a hot liner headed for right-center field. Comet second baseman Reed Peters was able to snare the drive with an all-out diving catch and — with Shekleton off on contact — got up and stepped on second base for the game-ending doubleplay.
Joslin, who will continue his baseball career at Iowa Lakes after his senior season with the Comets, picked up the win after pitching 5 and 1/3 innnings. Only 2 of the 3 runs scored off him were earned.
In the second game, Charles City was held to just two hits with freshman Malachi O’Brien going 1 for 3 with an RBI single in the third inning which tied the game at 1-1.
Joslin went 1 for 2 with a walk, and Blunt got on base in all three of his plate appearances by way of getting hit by pitches twice and nearly getting hit a third time while drawing a walk.
New Hampton sophomore Jaxon Eckley was 3 for 3, junior Kael Meyers got on base three times with a pair of walks and a single, and Shekleton got the win on the mound for the Chickasaws (3-1, 1-1 NEIC).
Charles City (2-3, 1-1) will be back in action on Friday when it takes on Clinton at Waterloo’s Riverfront Stadium.