BLAIRSBURG - Two of the better pitchers in the Iowa Star Conference and in the state's smallest class stood toe-to-toe here yesterday, and neither blinked.
Clarksville junior right-hander Zach Bergman and Northeast Hamilton senior righty Marcus Mechaelsen beat the heat and the opposing offenses in a conference battle that lasted just 80 minutes.
But the Indians supported Bergman just a bit better, as the visitors escaped town with a 3-1 victory. It was Northeast Hamilton's sixth straight loss and 12th setback in its last 13 outings.
"It was a battle of pitchers that are two of the best in (Class) 1A," NEH head coach Brandon Kelley said. "No earned runs were scored; it just came down to we made a couple of key mental mistakes and that was the ballgame."
Bergman allowed just two hits - an infield single off the bat of Stephen Chamness and a base knock by Mark Frohwein - and struck out 11 to increase his 1A-best total to 104. He improved to 6-3 on the bump this season.
"Bergman is a really good pitcher, but we actually improved against him," Kelley said. "The last time we played them he had 17 strikeouts."
Clarksville002 001 0-3 3 6
Northeast Hamilton100 000 0-1 2 3
Zach Bergman and Matt Negen. Marcus Mechaelsen and Gabe Rapp. W-Bergman. L-Mechaelsen.
Clarksville took the first encounter as well, 6-1.
Mechaelsen, who has been stymied by mistakes behind him all season, fanned 10, giving him 89 on the season. He stepped onto the hill with the fourth-best 1A total.
Clarksville (8-5, 8-3 ISC) finished with just three hits - all singles. Mechaelsen lowered his earned run average to 1.37 and opponents are hitting just .121 against him this season, yet he slipped to 3-6.
"Marcus was the hard-luck loser again," Kelley said. "He battled and did what a senior needs to do, but we just couldn't get a timely hit."
Mechaelsen scored the Trojans only run in the first inning to push out to an early lead. Clarksville took the lead for good with two runs in the third and added an insurance run in the sixth.
NEH (3-14, 1-8 ISC) will be on the road to take on Green Mountain Garwin on Wednesday.