Blue Devils dropped by NIACC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

MASON CITY -- Like a team playing its first doubleheader of the season, Riverland made mistakes. And as the squad of seasoned sophomores, North Iowa Area Community College took full advantage.

The host Trojans capitalized on every Blue Devil miscue and took a twinbill from the Riverland baseball team Tuesday afternoon in Mason City, 11-10 and 14-2. NIACC made a spring trip to Cocoa Beach, Fla., and had played 13 games going into Tuesday's non-conference contests.

Riverland's season opener could not have started on a sadder note as the roster of 11, already hampered by minor injuries, dwindled to 10 after first baseman Derek Bonser twisted his knee stretching away from the base during the bottom of the first inning. Adam Highum hurt his knee during the previous day's practice, leaving an ironman nine on the field for the Devils.

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But the Blue Devils made due with what they had and nearly stole the opener from an unexpecting NIACC team. Riverland scored seven runs over the final two innings, highlighted by home runs from Jeff Geisler and Mike Haugen. Haugen, a Winona State transfer from Hayfield, launched a three-run shot for his first collegiate home run to trim the gap to 11-10 in the top of the seventh. A pair of fly-outs ended the comeback one run short.

"We should have won that first game, we just made too many mistakes," said sophomore shortstop Nate Vollbrecht. "Our hitting was pretty good for the first time facing live pitching outside."

Riverland outhit NIACC 13-8, including six extra-base knocks. Geisler's second career home run -- a two-run fly in the sixth -- sparked the Devils' rally.

"We would have been really happy to get a split," said first-year coach Scott Koenigs. "I'm happy with the way we hit. We outhit them, guys went up there swinging."

But five errors and six unearned runs to Haugen hindered what would have been a surprise victory for the underdog Blue Devils. Haugen surrendered a wind-aided two-run homer to Matt Ungs in the bottom of the fifth that provided the game-winning runs.

"They were a lot crisper defensively, and that was the difference really," Koenigs said.

NIACC made just one error in the opener, accounting for one unearned run. Riverland held a 2-0 lead after the first inning before a pair of two-out errors led to four runs for the Trojans.

Clint Ripley, batting in the No. 9 spot, went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Geisler and Haugen each went 2-4 with three RBIs, Todd Walerak was 2-4 with a double, and Jamie Morrison had two RBIs.

"We need to work on the mental mistakes," Koenigs said. "Losing Bonser and playing with nine guys, they battled. I'm not too upset about the result. We anticipated it was going to be tough."

NIACC rally

NIACC came away from the doubleheader with an 11-4 record, pounding out a 14-2 victory in the run-rule shortened nightcap. Left-hander Jarren Hummel threw all five innings for the Trojans and limited Riverland to two hits.

The Blue Devils put the ball in play, striking out only once, but hit a lot of grounders that NIACC's speedy middle infielders were able to track down. NIACC transfer Matt Dixon had Riverland's only two hits.

Dixon got the loss for the Blue Devil pitching staff, surrendering eight runs -- one earned -- in one and two-third innings. Morrison and Geisler went the rest of the way, allowing three earned runs apiece.

Riverland again led after the top half of the first. A double-steal by Vollbrecht and Haugen accounted for the icebreaker.

The Blue Devils (0-2) play another non-conference twinbill Sunday at 1 p.m. at Waldorf in Forest City.


Game One


Dixon c4011Kester cf5110

Walerak rf4120Cummings dh4120

Vollbrecht ss2210Rima lf3110

Morrison p2212Ungs ss2212

Geisler cf4223Harris c4210

Bonser 1b0000 Asche c0000

Wchmnn rf4010Podraza 3b3310

Haugen 3b4123Purdum rf2111

Peterson lf4100Huber 1b2000

Ripley 1b4130Olson 2b4000




E--Walerak 2, Peterson, Vollbrecht, Geisler, Blome. LOB--Riv 5, NIACC 8. 2B--Walerak, Vollbrecht, Haugen, Ripley, Podraza. HR--Geisler, Haugen, Ungs. S--Huber. SF--Morrison. SB--Kester. CS--Vollbrecht.



Haugen, L 0-15810454



Blome, W343214

Wilbur2 2/373303


Smith, Sv110001

WP--Haugen. PB--Dixon, Harris. HBP--Podraza (by Haugen), Vollbrecht (by Kleve), Morrison (by Kleve).

Game Two


Dixon p/3b3020Kester cf3234

Haugen c3101Cummings dh4112

Vollbrecht ss3000Rima lf2112

Morrison cf0001Ungs ss3321

Geisler cf/p2000Podraza 3b3124

Ripley 1b2000Olson 2b3011

Wchmann rf2000Huber 1b2100

Peterson 2b1000Hoel c2210

Walerak lf1100Kleitsch dh2320




E--Walerak, Morrison, Dixon, Huber, Hoel. LOB--Riv 5, NIACC 5. HR--Ungs, Podraza. SF--Morrison, Rima. SB--Dixon, Vollbrecht, Haugen. CS--Kester.



Dixon, L 0-11 2/348153




Hummel, W522131

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at