Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The combination of quality competition, some inexperience and a little tough luck was the recipe for a slow offensive start for Regina.
The Regals got things cooking on Tuesday.
Regina had four extra-base hits and scored a season-high for runs in a 5-1 victory over West Branch in a meeting of River Valley Conference South Division unbeatens in Iowa City.
“We’ve been really working to try to find barrels and we knew we had it in us,” Regina junior Danny Gavin said. “It took us a couple of games to find it but this team has a lot of talent throughout the lineup so we just have to find a way to put the barrel on the ball and let things happen.”
Gavin double twice and scored a run and junior Jack Tierney hammered a two-run home run to highlight a six-hit night for Regina.
Freshman Connor Nicpon tossed six shutout innings and added an RBI double as the Regals improved to 2-3 on the season and 2-0 in RVC play.
“This was a really big win for us,” Nicpon said. “We had a tough loss on Friday against Mount Vernon. We knew we could hit and we finally showed it tonight.”
Regina scored just five total runs in losses to 3A teams Clear Creek Amana, Davenport Assumption and Mount Vernon during a 1-3 start.
The Regals had just 14 hits and nine runs in its first four games.
On Tuesday the hits and runs start to come for Regina.
“As we always do here we started out with a pretty tough schedule and sometimes that works out really well and you learn from your mistakes and sometimes it kicks you while you are down,” Regina coach Steve Pacha said. “It took a couple of days for us to get out of the funk.”
Regina scored single runs in both the second and third innings against West Branch ace Lucas Pierce.
Tierney led off the second with a single to center field, stole second and third and eventually scored on a throwing error.
Gavin led off the third with his second double of the game and scored on an RBI single by senior Cam Lehman.
“The reality is what we are going to see is guys like Lucas Pierce every night,” Pacha said. “We are going to see that every night so get used to it and really throughout our conference, especially in the South side we are going to see good arms every night.”
The two early runs were more than enough for Nicpon who didn’t allow a hit until Max Lodge led off the fifth with a single up the middle.
Nicpon allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings, striking out five and walking two.
“Everything was really there tonight,” Nicpon said. “My fastball wasn’t as live as it normally is but it still had good movement on it and my curveball was a little high but I was getting strikes with it and my change up was really there.”
Nicpon escaped his only jam in the fifth.
The single by Lodge, a walk to Caley Seydel and a single by Quinn Hayden loaded the bases with one out.
Nicpon got Noah Pedersen swinging for the second out and sophomore Jackson Naeve made a sliding catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Connor Rios in left field to end the inning.
“It’s all about trust and we have trust in our pitchers they have been great all year and we have trust in every guy that is out in the field,” Gavin said. “We had to pick them up and do our job while they do theirs.”
Tierney broke the game open with a two-out, two-run line drive home run to left in the fifth inning that gave Regina a 4-0 cushion.
“After JT hit that home run that helped a lot,” Nicpon said. “That freed me up to just keep throwing strikes, that’s all I had to do and my defense made plays behind me.”
Pierce took the loss for West Branch as the Bears dropped to 2-2 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.
West Branch 000 000 1 – 1 4 2
Regina 011 021 x – 5 6 1
W – Connor Nicpon L – Lucas Pierce
2B – WB: Cale Seydel. ICR: Danny Gavin (2), Connor Nicpon
HR – ICR: Jack Tierney