Storm Lake baseball is off to a fast start, becoming the first team in the state to reach 5-0 after sweeping through the Sioux Central Tournament over the weekend, then adding victim in Hull Western Christian Tuesday night for their first conference victory and Sheldon Wednesday night.
Senior Ben Seaman throw the first no-hitter of his career Tuesday, and the opportunist Tornadoes again turned a handful of hits into a plethora of runs by pressuring the defense at every opportunity.
Storm Lake and Western Christian were locked in a pitcher's dual early, 1-1 into the third. Carsen Anderson walked for the Tornadoes, and a bad WC throw on a bunt attempt left runners at the corners. Coutney Goodchild's sacrifice fly put Storm Lake up 2-1. A double by Michael McCabe and back-to-back hits by Tony Pertzborn and Jeff Kofmehl, followed by an RBI suicide squeeze bunt, netted Storm Lake five runs to take ownership of the contest.
"Ben threw very well for us, striking out five and giving up no hits, but allowing seven walks. He walked three in the seventh inning, but we got out of it. He was working a change up very well and mixing in a good fast ball, and the guys played good defense behind him, with only one error, Coach Bill McCabe said.
Storm Lake managed only four hits, but stole five bases and otherwide harassed the WC defense into mistakes. When they did have runners on, batters made contact or layed down good bunts to advance them - with just one strikeout against them the whole night.
It may have been a holiday weekend before that, but SLHS was working the overtime with three wins in the Sioux Central tourney, all without straining their pair of senior aces.
First, they stopped Westwood 7-2, giving a first start to Dillon Freking, a transfer from Algona in his first season with SLHS who threw a seven-inning five-hitter. Courtney Goodchild clobbered a two-run homer as he went two-for three. Storm Lake scored a run in the first, three in the third, two in the fourth and two more in the fifth for a steady offensive output.
In the second-game, Storm Lake mugged Harris-Lake Park, which had no answers in its bullpen for the 3A sluggers. Freshman Nolan Cone came on for his first start on the mound, giving up three hits over four innings. Storm Lake stockpiled 19 hits with Michael McCabe going five-for six with three runs batted in, while Goodchild was three-for-four with two RBIs.
Finally, Storm Lake tackled host Sioux Central for the nightcap in what would be a good matchup in a 7-4 win. Sioux Central's Stuart Goslinga and Storm Lake freshman Luke Anderson locked up as the two teams traded the lead back and forth, Anderson giving up five hits and getting relief from Ben Seaman in the sixth inning. Michael McCabe was three-for-four hitting with what would prove to be the game-winning RBI in the sixth to break the 4-4 tie. Tony Pertzborn added two hits including his sixth inning double to drive in two insurance runs.
Last night, Storm Lake extended its streak to seven with a 4-2 win over Sheldon. Statistics were not yet available at presstime.
SL travels to Emmetsburg Friday. Then they have the Storm Lake Invitational Saturday, where they kick off against Sioux Center at 12:30, Alta plays East Sac, with winners advancing to a 5:30 showdown.
Coach McCabe likes what he has seen so far.
"Our seniors and our young kids have all been throwing very well. We don't give up a lot of hits, and that keeps us in ballgames. We've done a good job at the plate putting the ball in play and finding ways to get people on base," he said.
The team will be working to reduce the walks allowed and to develop more consistent play on defense that will be needed to contend in a conference race that could be wide open, McCabe feels.
"There are plenty of good teams in the Lakes - it's going to come down to who matches up against who among the better pitchers on a given night."