116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion baseball team finally lost a game this season to a team in its own class.
But it didn’t come without a fight. And it sure didn’t come without some controversy.
Solon scored twice in the top of the 11th inning and made those runs barely stand up for an 11-10 win in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday night that eclipsed the four-hour mark.
Marion is top-ranked in Class 3A, Solon No. 6.
The Indians (22-4) won the opener in surprisingly easy fashion, 13-2, in five innings. Their three previous losses this regular season were to 4A schools Cedar Rapids Prairie, Davenport Central and North Scott.
“I think we came here with the understanding that they were a good baseball team and we were gonna scrap and it was going to kind of be a playoff environment,” said Solon Coach Keith McSweeney. “We bounced back. The resiliency of our team, we’ve seen it before this year.”
Back to the nightcap, specifically the 11th inning. Solon (22-8) scratched a pair of runs across in the top half, on a Ben Cusick bad-hop RBI single over Marion first baseman Owen Puk and a two-out wild pitch.
Marion loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with one away, with Jaqson Tejada’s sacrifice fly making it 11-10 and moving the tying run to third.
Ryan Paulsen then hit a roller toward deep-ish shortstop that Solon’s Brady Jeworek fielded and threw to first for what was ruled the final out. However via naked eye and backed up by video replay, Paulsen actually was safe by almost two steps, which would have re-tied the game and given Marion a chance to win.
Paulsen, Marion Coach Steve Fish and assistant and first-base coach Tom Hauck vehemently showed their displeasure after the out call was made. To add insult to injury, the home plate umpire then ejected a Marion player AFTER the game for squawking too loud.
Fish said the unidentified player was supposed to pitch in Marion’s doubleheader Friday against Dyersville Beckman.
“I’ve been doing this 37 years, and you don’t end a game between two ranked teams on a call like that, that wasn’t even close,” Fish fumed. “I mean, they outplayed us, hats off to them, we made some mistakes, we dug our own grave.
“But we battled back and put ourselves in a position. I know there’s an umpire shortage, but that was not close. Then we would have had a guy at second and an all-state player at the plate with a chance to win it. But he bangs him, and then he throws one of our guys out.”
Marion induced the mercy rule in Game 1 thanks to batting around in a pair of innings. The Indians scored five times in the second and seven times in the fourth.
Marion hit the heck out of the ball per usual, recording 12 hits in just four innings offensively. Cael Hodges, Puk, Myles Davis and Paulsen each had two.
Seven of the nine Indians regulars drove in runs, led by Davis’ three. Eight Indians had at least one hit, with catcher Kaden Frommelt the exception, though he walked twice and had a sacrifice fly.
The thing here was Marion scored its dandy dozen plus one in a row, as Solon scored twice in the top of the first inning against Indians starting pitcher Seth Blackford. The sophomore rebounded to improve his season record to 4-0, allowing five hits and striking out five in five innings.
Marion came into this doubleheader ranked second in the state in batting average at a gaudy .394. Only Tri-Center hits better, according to Varsity Bound at a reported .465.
Solon came into this twinbill a winner in 12 of its last 13 games, including scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night to beat rival Iowa City Regina.
The Spartans scored four unearned runs in the first three innings of the nightcap to take a 4-1 lead, only to have Marion tie it in the fourth with three runs.
Thus began a game of ping pong. Solon countered with two runs in the top of the fifth for a 6-4 lead, only to have Marion score two in the bottom half to tie things again.
Solon parlayed a Blake Timmons triple and doubles by Brett White and Kinnick Pusteoska into a three-run top of the sixth for a 9-6 edge. But naturally Marion came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 9-9, with the tying run scoring when Puk was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
No one scored again until the 11th. Mega kudos to lightly-used relievers Jake Trca of Marion and Westen Stiegelmeier of Solon for their exceptional work in the late and extra innings.
Trca didn’t give up a hit or run for five innings, until appearing to tire in the 11th. Stiegelmeier pitched in Game 1, but came back here and put together 5 1/3 innings, allowing just a single run to get the win.
“I haven’t pitched much this year,” Stiegelmeier said. “Everyone in the dugout was just getting me hyped.”
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