Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – There are teams that take the ‘small ball’ label as an insult.
Those that feel like it’s a slight against their hitters or a team’s ability to hit for power and put up runs.
City High doesn’t just tolerate the small ball style it embraces it and as the Little Hawks demonstrated Monday in a 12-3 win over Liberty High they are dang good at it.
“We take pride in that just to go out there and out play the other team,” City High junior Cade Obermueller said. “I think we do it better than most teams in the state.”
City High used its usual array of small ball tactics on Monday while improving to 5-4 on the season and 4-1 in Mississippi Valley Conference play with its win over Liberty High at Mercer Park.
The Little Hawks used combination of bunts, two-out, opposite field hitting, aggressive baserunning, solid defense and strong pitching to win the opener of the back-to-back contests with Liberty High.
City High will travel to Liberty High (4-4, 2-3) for the second of the home and home series on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“We didn’t start out great this year and I think part of it was we were consistently trying to do too much,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “Where we are really good is when we are putting balls in play, hard contact and a lot of bunting, baserunning and putting pressure on all the time.
The Little Hawks didn’t slug the ball all over the field on Monday but had 10 hits, many of which were of the opposite field variety.
City High got a strong outing from junior Jay Kennedy and played strong defense behind him.
All the things the Little Hawks know they must do in order to be successful.
“That has to be who we are,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got a little pop with John (Klosterman) but for the most part we have to hit the ball the other and way and put pressure on the defense all the time.”
Liberty High took an early lead with some small ball of its own.
Brody Fishman led off the game with an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch.
City High answered quickly and in typical City High fashion.
Joey Bouska led off the bottom of the inning with a bunt single and Carter Seaton followed with an opposite field, two-strike single to left field.
“It started with Joey on the push bunt and that was on his own,” Mitchell said. “That was outstanding.”
A Gable Mitchell sacrifice bunt attempt was thrown away for an error allowing one run to score and Obermueller had a two-out opposite field single that plated another run giving the City High a 2-0 lead it would never give up.
City High tacked on a run in the third on an RBI single by Mitchell and then exploded for eight runs in the fourth.
Klosterman, Obermueller and Jacob Means all had two-out RBI base hits as City High sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth.
“That’s how we got on them early and then we got the sticks really going and that was good stuff,” Obermueller said. “I felt like we really opened up tonight.”
That was more than enough for Kennedy who posted his best outing of the season.
Kennedy struck out eight and walked five in five innings, allowing three runs on three hits.
“I had the offspeed going a little bit and to be able to throw those for strikes and in the counts I want to keep hitters off balance and make them think a little more was big,” Kennedy said. “That was working tonight for me, a lot more than the previous two weeks. You have to learn to pitch you can’t just throw.”
The win was the first of the season for Kennedy who had allowed five runs in 8 1/3 innings in his first two starts of the season.
The hard-throwing left-hander had at least one strikeout in all five innings, fanning three in the second and two in the fifth.
“I think every day is a learning process, you can take away a lot of things from every game,” Kennedy said. “I’m trying to pick out certain things to improve on and continuing to get better is really the key.”
Seaton and Obermueller each finished with two hits while Klosterman and Obermueller drove in three runs as City High posted a season-high run total and scored more than five runs for the first time this season.
Fishman and TJ Kimm each had a hit and scored a run for Liberty High while Boyd Skelley had a hit and drove in two runs.
“We’ve always had a little rivalry with them, we’ve played those guys since we were little kids,” Obermueller said. “As a whole team we like to bring the energy all the time.”
Liberty High 100 020 0 – 3 7 0
City High 201 801 x – 12 10 0
W – Jay Kennedy L – Ethan O’Donnell
2B – ICH: Carter Seaton
3B – ICH: Jacob Means