The Crowder Roughriders took a split Saturday on the first day of a four-game series, winning the first game 6-1 and losing the second 5-4 against North Iowa at Roughrider Field.
In the opener, Crowder sophomore Zach Jackson — last season’s wins leader — continued his winning and workhorse ways, allowing one run (unearned) on five hits over the full seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
In the nightcap, North Iowa took greater advantage of its scoring opportunities with timely hitting, while Crowder stranded 11 runners, including the final one in the seventh on third base, only 90 feet away from procuring a tie score.
Back to Jackson. Big No. 29 — listed at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds — improved to 4-0 on the season with a 2.84 ERA and 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 1/3 innings.
Last season, Jackson finished 12-3 with a 3.90 ERA and 66 strikeouts and 20 walks over 97 innings. He pitched seven complete games.
On Saturday, North Iowa plated its only run against Jackson in the first, then the Roughriders went to work with two in the third and four in the fourth.
In the third, Tyler Duncan began the Crowder rally with a single, then Frielin Cabrera singled and the ‘Riders had runners at the corners with one down. Drew Reilly worked a walk to load the bases, then Luke Price hit a two-run single. The Trojans averted further damage when Brinson Williams flied out and then second baseman Ezequias Encarnacion forced out Reilly at second.
The ‘Riders started out hot in the fourth with consecutive singles by Colten Nix and Cooper King. Cameron Witt did his job and sacrificed Nix and King over 90 feet. Kobe Morris brought home Nix and King on a single and the ‘Riders scored the final runs on an error that brought home both Morris and Tyler Duncan, who singled after Morris.
In the second game, Crowder jumped out 2-0 after one and the ‘Riders got off on the good foot with a Morris leadoff double. Duncan worked a walk. Morris and Duncan executed a double steal. Cabrera drove in both Morris and Duncan, in seemingly one of the few times in the game when Crowder delivered with runners in scoring position.
North Iowa tied it up in the third on a Roy Thurman single and Ben Fitzgerald scored on defensive obstruction by Crowder starter Aaron Ashby.
Crowder went back ahead in the bottom of the third with Samuel Chaput’s RBI double.
North Iowa scored the next three runs — one each in the fourth, fifth, and seventh.
Cade Schares hit a RBI double in the fourth, scoring Fox Leum, who reached on a dropped third strike.
After Crowder left the bases loaded in the fourth, North Iowa went ahead 4-2 on a Ben Komonosky double, which brought home Thurman, who reached on a walk.
North Iowa’s final run came against reliever Jack Jumper, whose only blemish was Bryce Ball’s solo home run.
Witt worked an one-out walk in the last chance seventh to spark Crowder. Branson Williams popped out for the second out, then Riley Perks delivered a clutch single and Witt advanced to third. Witt scored on a passed ball as North Iowa closer Chase Stewart faced pinch hitter Michael Chrisman. Perks eventually advanced to third on another passed ball, but Stewart stuck out Chrisman swinging to end the game and salvage the first day split.
Ashby took the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits over 4 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Jumper allowed one run on just the solo home run over 2 1/3 innings and struck out three and walked none.
North Iowa pitchers Tom Skoro, Evan Seifert, and Stewart combined for 14 strikeouts — one more than Crowder — and seemingly every one of them came with Crowder having runners on.
Crowder dropped to 10-4 on the season entering the series finale.
Crowder 6, North Iowa 1
North Iowa 100 000 0 — 1 5 2
Crowder 002 400 X — 6 9 2
Brandon Williamson, Patrick Pridgen (4) and Ben Komonosky. Zach Jackson and Brinson Williams. WP: Jackson. LP: Williamson. E: Jimmy Brady, Ben Fitzgerald; Freilin Cabrera, Colten Nix. 2B: Fox Leum. SH: Cameron Witt. SB: Kobe Morris 2, Cooper King, Tyler Duncan, Nix. HBP: Ezequias Incarnation. LOB: North Iowa 7, Crowder 7.
North Iowa 5, Crowder 4
North Iowa 002 110 1 — 5 6 2
Crowder 201 000 1 — 4 7 2
Tom Skoro, Evan Seifert (5), Chase Stewart (7) and Ben Komonosky. Aaron Ashby, Jack Jumper 95) and Samuel Chaput. WP: Skoro. LP: Ashby. SV: Stewart. E: Jimmy Brady, Skoro; Ashby 2. HR: Bryce Ball. 2B: Cade Schares, Kimonosky; Kobe Morris, Chaput. SB: Roy Thurman; Frielin Cabrera 2, Tyler Duncan, Colten Nix, Morris. HBP: Ben Fitzgerald; Duncan. LOB: North Iowa 6, Crowder 11.