REINBECK Although it's normally a rare feat, South Tama County's baseball team is starting to make throwing a no-hitter a weekly performance.
On Friday, STC sophomore Dalton Doyle didn't need much help from his teammates on the field, but he received just enough to earn the win from the mound. The Trojans made several challenging plays to save Doyle's no-hitter. However, they also committed two errors that stopped Doyle, who did walk one batter, from having a perfect game.
Doyle did strike out 12 Gladbrook-Reinbeck batters to lead the Trojans to a 2-1 victory over the Rebels. The victory improved the Trojans to 6-1 on the season and 3-0 in North Iowa Cedar League West Division play.
South Tama sophomore Dalton Doyle threw a no-hitter Friday at Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Doyle walked only one batter during the Trojans 2-1 victory over the Rebels. It was the second STC no-hitter this season, as senior Sam Kuhter threw on on May 31 at home against Grundy Center.
"You just can't say enough about Dalton," STC coach Seth Koch said. "You talk about a dominant performance. He was 0-2 or 1-2 almost all night and he had that mentally of give me the ball, I'm going to the mound and I'm going to get outs. That's what he did and he got it done. That's the highlight of the night for sure."
Doyle's no-hitter was South Tama's second in eight days. On May 31, STC senior Sam Kuhter struck out 12 batters and walked three during his no-hitter against Grundy Center.
"One no hitter is special enough, but to have two in a week is pretty unbelievable," Koch said. "I credit that to the kids. I didn't call more than two or three pitches tonight. The work those guys did in the gym and the relationship they have with (senior) Noah (Bearden) showed tonight. I thought Noah did a great job behind the plate calling the ball game and being a great receiver. A lot needs to be said of the hard work they put in over the winter and how it shows in the summer."
Doyle agreed with his coach.
"It helps a lot," Doyle said of the time spent during the winter working with Bearden. "We're on the same page and he knows what I want to throw. He knows what I want to call."
As the no-hitter was progressing throughout the game, the Trojans' pitcher knew it was happening. No one mentioned it, but he tried to focus on pitching well and win the closely-contested conference game.
"I knew it was happening," Doyle said. "The win was more important."
Doyle started and finished the game strong. He struck out four of the first six batters and seven of the final 10, including the final two batters of the game. He threw 70 of his 97 pitches for strikes and only went to ball three one time when he walked a batter in the fourth inning.
"It felt good," Doyle said. "The defense had my back and they made a couple great plays out there. Clay had a diving catch in right field that was great and it saved it.
"My curveball was working low tonight," he added. "Also my fastball was hitting the outside corner. I was getting great calls. Noah called a great game back there."
Koch was proud of his sophomore pitcher.
"Dalton had really good command of the curveball," Koch said. "When you look back at first pitch strikes, I bet he threw 75 percent first pitch strikes. When you can get ahead on a first pitch strike and get them to jump at the curveball, you're dominant. He had both pitches working really well. He had the mentality that he was going to throw the ball by you. He had 12 Ks in 21 outs. That's pretty darn tough."
The fourth inning was the only one of seven where the hometown Rebels had more than three batters up to the plate. The inning started with Doyle striking out the Rebels' leadoff batter. The second batter hit a fly ball to right-center field where STC senior Clay Waterbury dove and robbed the batter of a hit.
The Rebels' next batter was walked and became the only home team player to reach base. The runner scored a run when the next batter hit a single on an STC infield error. South Tama ended the inning one batter later with a groundout to Doyle, who threw it to senior Tank Keckler at first base.
South Tama's defense also committed an infield error during the top of the seventh inning. However, the next batter hit a sacrifice bunt and the final two batters struck out.
"Clay makes a great catch," Koch said. "He probably made it look more difficult than it was, but bottom line, it's in the glove. Even when we made a mistake defensively, those guys bounced back and made a play. That's the most important thing."
The Trojans' offense struggled most of the night to put runners on base, despite putting the ball into play every inning. They only struck out seven times Friday night.
In the third inning, freshman Colson Frakes started the inning by earning a walk. Junior Kolton Smith followed him up with an RBI triple that scored Frakes and gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead. Senior Kaleb Davenport continued the offense with the next at-bat. He hit an RBI double to score Smith, which gave STC a 2-0 lead that would be enough to win the game.
"We almost wasted it," Koch said of the no-hitter. "Dalton goes out and he's perfect through four innings. We put runs on the board early and had chances to score more runs at times. We'd get a guy in scoring position with nobody out and we have our three, four and five hitters coming to the plate. We can't push a run across. We have to be able to do that. We had a situation late in the game and we make a base running mistake that cost us a run or two. We've got to take advantage of those scoring opportunities when we can, especially in conference play."
South Tama also played at home Thursday night. STC hosted Prairie City Monroe and came away with a five-inning, run-ruled victory. Senior Sam Kuhter struck out seven batters in the 11-0 win.
The Trojans scored two runs in the first inning and seven more in the second to take a commanding 9-0 lead. They added two more in the fourth inning. Smith, Davenport, sophomore Grant Koch and freshman Justin Suchanek, who pinch ran for Bearden, each scored two runs. Doyle, sophomore Ian Slagle and Frakes also added one run each. STC had only five hits in the game, but walked 10 times.
"Sam didn't give up a hit threw three last night," Koch said. "He gave up a hit in the fourth inning. Then Nate Hala came in and pitched the fifth inning. We really swung the bat well last night. We were able to get some runs across and take advantage of some walks by PCM. I think they walked 10 guys. We were able to get the win and get off the field early last night."
South Tama will be at home Thursday and Friday. STC will host Grinnell and West Marshall this week.
"We have nine conference games in two weeks, counting tonight," Koch said. "That's the majority of the conference season then and there. We just have to get ready for South Hardin. I know they'll come ready to play."