Martinez goes yard, Lynx truck Lions to take NCC lead
WCHS lashes 13 hits; Hackbarth his usual brilliant self on mound, fans 14
WEBSTER CITY — Romel Martinez knew what was coming even before Clear Lake right-hander pitcher Ben Finn went into his wind-up during the first inning at Lynx Field Monday night.
With a 3-2 count, the Webster City senior lead-off hitter was sitting on a fastball. Finn obliged and a few seconds later the baseball was bouncing off the parking lot asphalt beyond the fence in left field.
And just that quickly, the rout was on.
Martinez’s solo home run, the first of his career, set the tone in the battle of North Central Conference unbeaten clubs that was expected to be a nail-biter. Instead, defending league champion WCHS sent a 9-0 statement to the remainder of the teams on its schedule.
“It was middle in and I just put a good charge into it,” Martinez, who is hitting a scorching .538 on the season, said after the romp over Clear Lake. “My job as a lead-off guy is to get everybody going and I did. I saw everybody sitting down in their dugout after that.”
The Lynx players were hyped prior to Martinez stepping to the plate. And after? They were through the roof.
“It was bound to happen because that kid, his swing is pretty to watch,” senior catcher Jordan Tanner, who went 3 for 3 with a RBI, said of Martinez. “As soon as he hit it, we all knew it was gone and it got us going.”
WCHS (5-1, 3-0 NCC) took outright ownership of the league lead by blasting 13 hits off Finn and Lions’ reliever Mac Adams, four of which went for extra bases. Caleb Olson went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI, Cameron Moen roped two RBI base knocks, Noah McKinney piped a pair of singles, Dylan Steen sent a shot to the fence in left for a two-RBI double and Nick Hackbarth found the gap for a double of his own.
The Lynx .381 team batting average is third-best in Class 3A.
“Everybody has been working really hard and we just keep getting better and better,” Olson, who is 6 for 8 over the last two games, said. “I know what this team is capable of. If we come out and play like this, I don’t think there’s anybody that can beat us.”
Combine the hitting with yet another dominant performance from Max Hackbarth on the mound and Olson just might be right.
Hackbarth, the Lynx senior all-state southpaw, lowered his ERA to 0.84 with a two-hit, 14-strikeout masterpiece over 62⁄3 innings. Hitting his pitch count, he turned the ball over to Olson for the final out which was, fittingly, another strikeout.
Hackbarth, who has allowed just four hits this season, had at least two punch outs in five of the seven frames that he worked. His fastball was popping, and his bender and cutter buckled the Lions’ knees.
“Max is just so fun to catch,” Tanner said. “He’s having another great season.”
In his 12 starts since the beginning of the 2017 season, Hackbarth is 10-0 with a 0.59 ERA. He’s averaging 11.3 strikeouts per outing over that span.
The WCHS pitching staff has now fanned 81 batters in 40 innings.
With Hackbarth humming, the Lynx essentially put Clear Lake (4-4, 2-1 NCC) away after they touched Finn for three runs in the first inning. Following Martinez’s dinger, Finn beaned a pair of hitters and Olson made him pay with a one-out double to right-center that plated Tanner and Steen.
Moen’s RBI base hit back up the middle in the third made it 4-0.
WCHS sent 11 batters to the dish and rattled off six hits in its five-run fourth. Nick Hackbarth ignited the flurry with a lead-off double to left. McKinney and Tanner followed with singles, and Steen promptly greeted Adams into the game by smoking his first pitch off the fence in left that scored two more. Max Hackbarth and Moen added RBI in the frame.
Clear Lake’s only scoring opportunity came in the sixth. With two aboard and two outs, Andrew Formanek sent a blooper into shallow center field, but Steen raced in and made a sliding snag to save a run and end the inning.
The victory did come with an expense, however. In the second inning while checking his swing, Martinez injured his left shoulder and eventually was forced to leave the game. His status is unknown.
“I just felt something and it immediately went numb,” Martinez said.
WCHS was at Saydel last night and will return to NCC action this evening at home against Iowa Falls-Alden. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Webster City 9, Clear Lake 0
Monday at Webster City
Cl. Lake 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Web City 301 500 x — 9 13 1
Ben Finn, Mac Adams (4) and Zach Lester. Max Hackbarth, Caleb Olson (7) and Jordan Tanner. W — M. Hackbarth. L — Finn. 2B — WC: Olson, Dylan Steen, Nick Hackbarth. HR — WC: Romel Martinez. Multiple hits — WC: Olson (3), Tanner (3), Noah McKinney, Cameron Moen. RBI — WC: Steen (2), Moen (2), Olson (2), Martinez, Tanner, M. Hackbarth.