BLAIRSBURG - Marcus Mechaelsen's pitching record is nothing to celebrate, but dig deeper - not much, maybe just below the surface - and you'll find impressive, perhaps even all-state numbers from the senior right hander.
And he only increased the value of his stock here yesterday evening.
With an eight-game losing streak constantly tapping it on the back, Northeast Hamilton turned the ball over to Mechaelsen and he responded with a five-hit, 15-strikeout gem in a hard-fought 5-3 victory over CAL in Iowa Star Conference play.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Northeast Hamilton shortstop Jacob Brim (back) waits for the ricochet as the ball smacks into the back of the head of Joel Johnson as the CAL base runner swipes second yesterday evening in Blairsburg. The Trojans built a 5-0 lead and then fended off the Cadets, 5-3, to end an 8-game losing skid.
Mechaelsen had his curveball bending into the zone all night, and his fastball zipped right by the Cadet batters on most occasions. He struck out the side in the first inning and again in the fifth, and there was a stretch in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames where he fanned six consecutive batters. He improved to 4-6 on the bump and lowered his earned run average to 1.72.
In 65 innings of work, Mechaelsen has whiffed 118 batters.
"I really think Marcus is an all-state pitcher," NEH head coach Brandon Kelley said after his club won for the first time since it manhandled CAL, 16-0, back on June 8. "It doesn't always account to a win, but I definitely think he's one of the best in the state, and the rest of the year we'll be throwing him as much as we can."
CAL000 001 2-3 5 4
Northeast Hamilton300 200 x-5 12 2
Alex Dorhman and Joel Johnson. Marcus Mechaelsen and Gabe Rapp. W-Mechaelsen. L-Dorhman. 2B-NEH: Mechaelsen. RBI-CAL: Ben Farhman (2), Dorhman; NEH: Mechaelsen, Stephen Chamness, Logan Seiser (2), Nick Jeffers.
The Trojans (4-16, 3-10 ISC) needed Mechaelsen to be sharp, as CAL (1-15, 0-13 ISC) refused to go away. The Cadets cut their deficit to 5-1 in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Alex Dorhman, and they added a pair of runs in the seventh courtesy of a two-run single by Ben Farhman.
CAL had runners at second and third base when Mechaelsen got Joel Johnson to ground out to shortstop Jacob Brim to end the game.
"It's good to win one of these because we've had a lot of games were we had the lead but couldn't hold onto it," Kelley said. "Obviously CAL is struggling this year, but so are we."
Mechaelsen also worked out of a second-inning jam - CAL put two runners in scoring position with one out - with back-to-back strikeouts.
Four of CAL's five hits came in the sixth and seventh innings.
NEH scored three times in the first inning to take the lead for good. Logan Seiser laced a one-out single into left field that brought Mechaelsen and Gabe Rapp to the dish to put the Trojans in front 2-0. Three batters later Nick Jeffers delivered with two outs with his own base knock to the left side that scored Brim.
It stayed 3-0 until the fourth when the Trojans ripped Dorhman, CAL's pitcher who went the distance, for four of their 12 hits. Mark Frohwein opened the frame with the second of his three singles - he went 3-for-3 overall - and he scored minutes later when Mechaelsen bashed the game's only extra-base hit into the gap in left-center for an RBI double.
Mechaelsen raced around third and headed home for a 5-0 cushion two batters later on Stephen Chamness' line-drive RBI single down the left-field line.
Mechaelsen, Seiser and Austin Smith all had two hits for the Trojans. Brim roped a sixth-inning shot into left for a single.
NEH had plenty of chances to put the game out of reach though. They left 12 runners stranded, including seven in scoring position. Twice the Trojans hit into a double play with men aboard.
"We're just not a great hitting team this year, and a lot of that has to do with our inexperience," Kelley said. "But I really feel like we're slowly getting better. We've just got to stay patient and keep battling."