IMS can't climb back from early deficit

GTNS photo by Doug Brenneman

Iowa Mennonite's Jacob Boller connects on a Highland pitch in Monday's 5-1 win.
GTNS photo by Doug Brenneman Iowa Mennonite's Jacob Boller connects on a Highland pitch in Monday's 5-1 win.

BURLINGTON — The high school baseball season is beginning its fourth week, but Iowa Mennonite School has played just five games, thanks to a few rainouts and another trip to the state tournament for the boys soccer team.

IMS got off to a slow start in Tuesday’s SEI Superconference cross-over game against Notre Dame, allowing five runs in the first innings.

IMS shut the door on the Nikes from there and had a chance to climb back into the contest before coming up on the short end of a 5-1 decision at Winegard Field.

IMS, which relied on stellar defense, solid pitching and timely hitting to win a district championship last season, committed three errors and dug an early hole, then nearly climbed out of it.

“We had some uncharacteristic plays on defense there to start,” IMS head coach Danny Hershberger said. “They came out and hit the ball really well. We dug ourselves a hole. I felt like we hit the ball pretty hard, just right at them. That happens in baseball. I’m proud of the way we came back. We gave ourselves opportunities there in the last couple innings. We kind of pride ourselves on playing great defense and pitching well. It was kind of disappointing that we had some letdowns. We talked about we have to be strong because that’s our style. That’s the way we play is great defense and pitching and get enough runs to get the job done. We have to do a better job of that.”

Notre Dame (6-2) took advantage of two IMS miscues in the first two innings to open a 4-0 lead. Another IMS error in the third inning allowed the Nikes to add another run.

IMS (3-2) gave itself a chance to climb back into the game in the sixth inning. Eli Ours drew a leadoff walk and London Schrock followed with a single. One out later, Jacob Boller beat out a slow roller down the third-base line to load the bases. Noah Miller singled down the left-field line to drive in Ours and cut the IMS deficit to four runs.

Notre Dame relief pitcher Nick Skerik struck out the next two batters to extinguish the uprising.

IMS had two runners on in the seventh after Trevor Leyden reached on a throwing error and Ours singled to right field. But Skerik got the final two outs to end the game.

“You always want to continue to compete,” Hershberger said. “When we’re down 5-0, I was happy with the way the guys continued to have good at-bats. We had the bases loaded there. We just needed that guy to step up and get a big hit with guys in scoring position. With all the rain and with soccer going to state, we’re kind of playing catch up. We’re getting there. We’re getting closer every day, it feels like. Hopefully we can keep going in that direction.”

IMS hosts Cardinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday.