First-year coach Grant Pippert thought his team could have put Davenport Central away. After being shutout in the first game of Monday’s home doubleheader at Tom Bruner field, the Muscatine baseball team scored the first two runs of game two in the opening inning.
However, the Muskies didn’t score again until the fifth inning and the Blue Devils made them pay, as they rallied to hand Muscatine a 4-3 defeat in game two. Muscatine (4-4, 2-4 MAC) had five errors in a 5-0 loss in game one.
“Our next step is yeah we came out strong (in game two) but let’s keep it going,” Pippert said. “We gave a good team an opportunity to stay in the game. Hopefully moving forward we learn from it. Just have to bury them.”
Still, Pippert is focused on “process not the product,” in year one and felt his team played well Monday night, especially in game two.
“He’s a positive guy and that’s why I love him,” sophomore Dawson Toborg said of Pippert. “That’s why I love him. I thought we played pretty well. The little things got us and we have to work on that.”
Mistakes proved costly, however, as sophomore Dalton Logel mishandled a ball at second base that would have been the final out in the top of the seventh.
With the score tied 3-3, Adin DeLaRosa picked up his fourth hit of the game, and the single gave Davenport Central (6-5, 5-4 MAC) two baserunners. Muscatine senior Drew Logel threw two wild pitches to plate the eventual winning run and sophomore catcher Diego Rangel hit into a double play to end the game.
“We’ve got a long ways to go but we’re going in the right direction,” Pippert said. “Credit to them, (Central) is a pretty solid team. But I think we left two games out there we should have had.”
The Muskies started game two with a flurry, scoring two runs in the opening inning after being held to zero runs on two hits in the opener. Toborg singled and was brought home on a hit to the left field wall by senior Drew Logel that went off the glove of Central’s Colby Zank.
A few batters later, senior Chandler Matos drove in another run with a blooper over second base. After limited success in game one at the plate, a more patient approach paid dividends to start the nightcap for the Muskies.
Central chipped away at the deficit with one run in the second, fourth and five innings to tie it 3-3 before scoring the winning run in the seventh.
Errors proved costly in game one as well. They Muskies committed five and dug a five-run hole by the second inning. Junior Brigg Burback, who pitched all seven innings and struck out seven, walked the first two batters of the game. Moments later, Matos dropped a pop fly in center field to load the bases.
With no outs, Bryce Owen mishandled a sharply hit ball at third base to give the Blue Devils their first run. They scored one on a sacrifice fly by Mason Gersdorf and two more on a two-RBI double by Josh Hann for a 4-0 lead. Hann’s double went over the head of junior Zach Eversmeyer, who was playing left field for the first time with the dismissal of senior Joey Martinez. Senior Trevor Paul is also no longer with the team.
“It was some hard lessons learned about being fully committed and what that means,” Pippert said. “it’s unfortunate and not what we planned but we’re going to move forward.”
Burback found his rhythm on the mound midway through the game and retired 18 of the final 21 batters he faced. The Muskies were never able to find any offense in the first of two losses.