COLUMBUS JUNCTION — If a team starts to catch on to a pitcher’s best pitch, a good hurler will just adapt and use a different pitch on the opponent. That’s what Jacob Ford did as Winfield Mt.-Union won a Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division baseball game over Columbus 12-1 in five innings Thursday.
“My fastball was working early on, but then it seemed like they were catching onto it,” Ford said. “That made me change things up and I finally got my curveball to working. It seemed like they did not really want to hit it.”
Ford allowed a single hit and a lone walk while striking out 11 of the 15 outs in the five-inning victory.
The curve was effective toward the end of the game.
“I can change my curve from a 12-six to a hanging curve because I’ve been working on it since seventh or eighth grade,” Ford said. “It is coming in handy in high school.”
Ford struck out the final five Columbus batters.
“Before the game, we had a talk and we just told him to come out and throw strikes,” Winfield-Mt. Union co-head coach Travis Jones said. “We thought if we could just throw strikes and trust the defense behind him, we would be all right.”
The strategy worked as the Wolves had just one error.
“They did not put many balls in play,” Jones said. “Jacob did what we asked.”
The Wolves gave Ford a 2-0 lead before he took the mound, then added five more in the second inning.
Dawson Bergthold led the Wolves at the plate as well as behind it. The W-MU catcher calls the pitches for Ford and went 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Collin Simmons and Nathan Crow each cracked a double for W-MU.
Marco Martinez went all five innings in the loss with six strikeouts, two walks and eight hits. Evan Rees had the only hit for the Wildcats.
“I was not happy with the game,” Columbus head coach Nick Swanson said. “That was probably one of the worst ones we have played.”
One play prompted an instant substitution when a bunt by W-MU was not covered correctly.
“A big thing for us is about knowing what you are supposed to do and doing it at 100 percent,” Swanson said. “I am trying to change the program for the better and right now every little thing matters. So we need to make sure we do things the right way. If somebody can’t do it the right way then the next guy will. We have to have the next-man-up kind of mentality.”
With no varsity team last year and a shortened season this year, Columbus has a lot of steps to take to get to where it wants to go.
“Only having two weeks to prepare and not having the arms has hurt us but that is true for everybody in the state,” Swanson said. “It is not an excuse. I think we are just not there yet as a program. We are working on it and we are going to build this program from the bottom up.”