Cougars outslug Warriors, 12-8

OUT — North Union catcher Kegan Boland (left) tags out Manson-Northwest Webster baserunner Devin Girard (sliding) at the plate on a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning of a Top of Iowa Conference baseball game Wednesday in Bancroft. Manson-Northwest Webster’s Carson Bower (back) watches on-deck. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BANCROFT — A five-run sixth inning was too little, too late for the Warriors.

The Manson Northwest Webster Cougars beat North Union 12-8 in a nonconference baseball game Wednesday night in Bancroft.

The Cougars entered the bottom of the sixth inning with a 9-3 lead, but the Warriors fought back.

Parker Eichenberger led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second when Jay Heinen walked, then Avery Krantz loaded the bases when he hit a fly ball to left field that the Cougars’ left fielder couldn’t handle.

After a strikeout for the first out of the frame, Noah Morphew hit a single back up the middle, which allowed both Eichenberger and Heinen to score, while Krantz moved to third and Morphew advanced to second on a fielding error.

Brendan Anderson roped a double down the left-field line to score Krantz and Morphew and Elliott Hagebock collected his third hit and third RBI of the night with a line-drive single through the right side of the infield to score Anderson.

The Warriors fought back to bring the Cougars’ lead to 9-8, but a three-run top of the seventh put the Cougars back ahead by four runs.

Down four, the Warriors were unable to capitalize on the first two batters of the final frame getting walked and fell 12-8.

North Union head coach Royce Byrnes said the five-run inning was encouraging.

“We just had good at-bats,” Byrnes said. “What I told them was, that is one area we need to work on. What we’re seeing right now is, we’re getting behind early and kind of panicking, chasing, swinging at not great balls in the dirt. Going up there in that sixth inning, the guys were being aggressive, swinging at the first pitch and not watching strikes go by all the time. … That’s what we need to start doing every at-bat the entire game.”

While the Warriors had a five-run sixth inning, the Cougars built their original lead with a five-run third inning.

In the top of the third with the Cougars ahead 1-0, MNW batters compiled four consecutive hits, including two doubles.

Ben Quade led off the inning for the Cougars reaching on a throwing error, then Derek Girard followed when he took advantage of a high fastball and drove it down the left-field line for an RBI.

Tommy Lawman kept the Cougars going with a single down the left-field line to score Derek Girard, then Devin Girard hit a line drive up the middle that skimmed off Warriors’ starter Morphew. Dawson Estergaard then scored both runners with a hard double down the left-field line and eventually scored on a dropped third strike and throwing error to put the Cougars ahead 6-0 after their half of the third.

The Warriors scored two of their own in the third, taking three walks, including bases-loaded walks to Hagebock and Robert Ortman, and adding a Morphew single, but the Cougars put up a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth to build their lead.

The Warriors scored one more in the fifth when Morphew doubled and scored on one of Hagebock’s three hits.

Byrnes said the Warriors need to do a better job of getting their bats heated up earlier in games.

“We started really slow,” Byrnes said. “We were throwing Noah (Morphew) out there to get him some more work before postseason play, he did a good job. In the third inning, they were hitting the ball and sometimes there isn’t a lot you can do about it but tip your cap. … The guys were resiliant. It would have been really easy down 8-2 to just pack it in and think about fireworks or something like that, but they did a good job of climbing back. … It just comes down to hitting the ball, we’re still striking out too much. We’re getting guys on base, we just need someone to step up and get a hit early so we’re not in six-run deficits later in games.”

Morphew pitched the first five innings for the Warriors, giving up eight runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out four.

Eichenberger came on in relief of Morphew, pitching 1 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on three hits, two walks and two hit batters. Hagebock came on for the final batter and threw one ball and one strike to force a groundout to first and end the top of the seventh inning.

Morphew had three hits for the Warriors, including a double, and had an RBI and three runs scored, while Anderson had a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

Hagebock had three singles and reached on a walk to get on base in all four of his plate appearances, while adding three RBIs. Eichenberger had a hit and a walk, while Heinen had two walks and a run scored.

The Warriors (5-16) play host to West Bend-Mallard at 7 p.m. Monday, while the Cougars (7-12) host East Sac County at 7 p.m. Monday.

MNW 105 111 3 — 12 11 2

NU 002 015 0 — 8 8 6

Devin Girard (WP), Derek Girard (6) and Austin Anliker. Noah Morphew (LP), Parker Eichenberger (6), Elliott Hagebock (7) and Kegan Boland.

LOB–MNW 12, NU 7. 2B–Derek Girard (MNW), Dawson Estergaard (MNW), Noah Morphew (NU), Brendan Anderson (NU). SAC–Carson Bower (MNW). SF–Ben Quade (MNW).­