SLIPPED AWAY: Hawks hammer Norse early, can’t hang on late

R-S rallies from five-run deficit, goes ahead to stay in sixth; Mateo Balderas rakes for South Hamilton

South Hamilton senior Mateo Balderas slides safely into third on Friday in Story City. He went 3 for 4 with three RBIs in an 11-9 loss to Roland-Story. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

STORY CITY — The long faces and silence as the South Hamilton players milled around their dugout late Friday night painted the picture perfectly.

Frustration. Disappointment. And probably a dozen other emotions.

It began so well, but sometime around the fourth inning it simply fizzled out.

South Hamilton had Roland-Story on the ropes, up 8-3 as the Hawks hit the snot out of the ball to the tune of 10 hits in three innings, but they had just two more over the final four innings. The Norsemen seized on the opportunity and rallied all the way back for an 11-9 Heart of Iowa Conference victory.

Roland-Story (11-6, 5-2 HOIC) pulled even with two runs in the third and four more in the fourth, and then scored the winning run and an insurance run in the last half of the sixth to escape with the win.

South Hamilton’s DJ Klonglan (right) grins at the Hawks’ dugout after his lead-off double against Roland-Story on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“We hit the ball well the first (three) innings,” South Hamilton head coach Kyle Galetich said. “I thought our approach was really good, but when the game got a little closer we started pressing a little bit. When we started pressing, we kind of fell back into our old ways and didn’t swing the bats the way we did (early in the game).”

Norsemen reliever Colby Gray, the fourth hurler used, had plenty to do with it. Utilizing off-speed pitches that he continually threw on the outside corner of the plate, he surrendered just two singles to Mateo Balderas and Cole Berg over his four innings of work.

Roland-Story starter Jakob Pitman lasted just 1/3 of an inning. Dylan Matheason worked 12⁄3, and Zach Twedt took an inning. South Hamilton (4-9, 1-7 HOIC) blistered all three.

“Seeing three guys that were all primarily fastball pitchers, and then have a guy come in and get a lot of off speed stuff … I didn’t think we did a very good job of changing our approach,” Galetich said.

Prior to the fourth inning, the Hawks hammered the ball at will. Balderas finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs, younger brother Zeke Balderas laced two hits, including a double, and plated one run. DJ Klonglan drilled a pair of hits, highlighted by a first-pitch double to deep right that set the tone for the early portion of the contest. Berg also collected a pair of hits.

South Hamilton junior Cole Berg (5) slides safely into second with a stolen base against Roland-Story on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton scored four runs in the opening frame, as Mateo Balderas drove in two on a single to left and Cade Balvanz brought two more around on a bloop single to right.

Mateo Balderas added another RBI single in the second. Klonglan and Zeke Balderas plated two more in the third to push the Hawks’ cushion to 8-3.

But Roland-Story had plenty of heavy lumber as well.

Zach Shadlow went 3 for 4 with a first-inning two-run home run — and it was a bomb — to straightaway center field. Landon Greiner belted two doubles and had four RBIs. Nathan Bell missed a home run in the sixth by inches, but settled for a double.

“The middle of their order hits the ball well,” Galetich said.

South Hamilton center fielder Sam Lewis (right) bobbles a catch, but hangs on to get the out against Roland-Story Friday night in Story City. The Norsemen won the HOIC contest, 11-9. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Roland-Story opened the sixth inning with three consecutive hits off Hawks’ reliever Cole Berg. Shadlow went the other way with a single to right to score Jayden MacDonald with the winning run. Greiner added the insurance two batters later with a RBI sacrifice fly to right.

Berg took the loss after working two innings. He allowed three hits and two runs.

CJ Hewitt got the start and went four innings for the Hawks. The Norsemen touched him for nine hits and eight earned runs. Hewitt walked four and struck out six.

It certainly wasn’t the outcome South Hamilton was looking for, as it dropped its eighth game in the last nine and its seventh consecutive league tussle. But just two days removed from a 22-5 beating at the hands of Nevada, Galetich was happy with how his club responded to the challenge. And he thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Hawks right the ship.

“I kind of wondered how we’d come back after the Nevada game because that was such an odd thing, and I’m proud,” Galetich said. “We’re going to get our share, I’m not worried about that yet. We’ve just got to keep going forward. We need to keep looking ahead and learn from our mistakes here.”

Hawks’ starting pitcher CJ Hewitt (left) and catcher Zeke Balderas chat during a stop in play against Roland-Story on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Roland-Story 11, S. Hamilton 9

Friday at Story City

S. Ham 422 100 0 — 9 12 1

Rol-Story 212 402 x — 11 10 5

CJ Hewitt, Cole Berg (5) and Zeke Balderas. Jakob Pitman, Dylan Matheason (1), Zach Twedt (3), Colby Gray (4) and Nick Stole. W — Gray. L — Berg. 2B — SH: DJ Klonglan, Z. Balderas; R-S: Landon Greiner (2), Nathan Bell. HR — R-S: Zach Shadlow. Multiple hits — SH: Mateo Balderas (3), Klonglan, Z. Balderas, Berg; R-S: Shadlow (3), Greiner, Bell, Jayden MacDonald. RBI — SH: M. Balderas (3), Cade Balvanz (2), Klonglan, Z. Balderas, Hewitt; R-S: Shadlow (5), Greiner (4).