Centerville -- The Indian Hills Falcons returned from a season-opening trip with two wins and an appreciation for being able to get outside for some action. The winter has not been kind for baseball teams in the northern part of the country and, according to IHCC head coach Matthew Torrez, it was "good to get outside for the first time this spring and play against somebody else. Our freshmen got valuable experience, which is crucial. We have a lot of young guys and plan to learn from this and improve."
The Falcons played twice in Neosho, Missouri against Crowder College and dropped both games, 12-2 and 17-6. Two days later they won a pair, beating the Oklahoma Christian JV, 4-2, and Coffeyville (Kans.), 7-3. The trip ended with a 7-2 loss to Barton (Kans.).
Indian Hills led 2-1 after an inning and a half in their season-opener, but Crowder scored three times in the 2nd and added six runs in the 3rd to break the game open. IHCC was held to three hits, by Ryo Yamaguchi, Juan Silva and Nathan Chasey. Silva knocked in two runs and Malik Abdul scored one of the runs and stole three bases. Alex Fisher and Silva also scored. Jordan Bahnuk, the lone pitcher returning from last year's mound staff, started and took the loss. Simen Restad and Luis Rivera worked in relief. In the nightcap, Silva had a solo homer and Takamatsu also went deep and drove in four runs. Cooper Huckabone walked three times and scored twice while Jet Weber and Dave Janssen both doubled. IHCC used three pitchers -- starter Omar Vigil was the loser and Abdul and Daniel Hargrave also saw action.
Coach Torrez said the temperature at game time for the first of two games on Saturday was 25 degrees making for some extremely tough conditions. But the Falcons were able to notch their first two wins of the year. Chasey's 2-run home run was the key blow in the win against the OCC JV. Takamatsu and Fisher had two-hit games, Yamaguchi scored two runs, Weber had a single and an RBI, and Matthew Moon doubled and scored. IHCC stole six bases, two of them by Weber. Nick Marshall got the start and worked five innings, allowing only one hit and one run, while striking out four. Restad, Zacharie Allard and Rivera all pitched in relief. Restad was especially effective, throwing two hitless innings with five Ks. Rivera retired all four batters he faced, fanning two, and saving Marshall's first collegiate win. "Nick did a great job of giving us a chance in his first college start," Torrez said. "We got a few timely hits, Chasey had the late clutch home run and our bullpen guys came in and did the job."
The Coffeyville game saw the Falcons pour across five runs in the top of the 7th to pull out the win. Weber had a double and a triple and Moon and Jay Hester had two hits each. Weber scored two runs and Chasey drove in two. The Falcons got a solid start from Wyatt Wendell, who permitted three hits and struck out four without issuing a walk. Rivera again finished out the victory with a 1-2-3 7th, fanning two. "Wyatt set the tone on the mound, limiting their offense and ultimately giving us a shot late in the game," the IHCC coach said. "The guys really battled after five hours of cold temperatures, and Luis did a great job of shutting the door in both games."
The following day, the Falcons were blanked until scoring two runs in the 7th against Barton. Weber had a two-run single, driving in Declan Buckle and Yamaguchi, to avoid the shutout. Alex Galvez, Matthew Vasquez, Jose Solis and Restad all pitched for the Falcons. Galvez, the starter, struck out eight in his 4 2/3 innings.
Indian Hills is slated to play doubleheaders against Metropolitan CC in Kansas City Feb. 23-24.