Prep baseball: Ottumwa overcomes slow starts to sweep Hoover

·3 min read

Jun. 23—OTTUMWA — It takes a Jaeger talk to get going.

At least that's how Adam Greiner describes what gets the Ottumwa High School baseball team going. Head coach John Jaeger had to impart those motivational words not once, but twice, during Wednesday's CIML Metro conference doubleheader with Des Moines Hoover.

"After the first inning of both games, Coach Jaeger stopped us right here (in front of their dugout) and went through it with us. It's mental. We're physically capable of going out there, throwing strikes and fielding ground balls. Our heads just were not all there, but Coach helped get us back on track."

Ottumwa overcome sloppy starts in both games against the Huskies at John Hart Stadium, shaking off a 3-0 first-inning deficit in game one and a 3-1 deficit in the third inning of game two. The Bulldogs scored four times in the bottom of the first take the lead away immediately from Hoover in an 11-4 win to open the doubleheader before scoring three times in the third to edge in front before a two-run single by Tanner Schark helped clinched a 6-3 victory in the nightcap, lifting Ottumwa to a perfect 14-0 record in Metro conference play.

"We tend to play down to the level of some teams in all sports until we get that wake-up call that we need to start playing our game," Greiner said. "Whether it's Ottumwa baseball or Ottumwa basketball, it just takes that wake-up call to get back to playing the way we're capable of."

Greiner picked up the win on the mound in game two, overcoming three unearned runs scored by the Huskies (5-18, 0-10 CIML Metro) in the first three innings as a result of three Bulldog errors. As a team, Ottumwa committed four errors in each contest, allowing five unearned runs to score over the two games.

In between the errors, however, Greiner was able to dominate Hoover hitters striking out 12 batters over seven innings including four in a row at one point. After being given a 4-3 lead to protect, Greiner allowed just four more Huskies to reach over the final four innings stranding potential tying runs in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth with a strikeout and pop up to end the fifth, leaving two runners on, before striking out consecutive batters to strand Branden Dill at third base to close out Hoover's last threat at handing Ottumwa a conference loss.

"It was pretty easy once I figured out the strike zone, which didn't come until the third inning," Greiner said. "Once I figured that out, things started to get easier. I was able to pitch it where strikes were being called and it just kept working."

Tucker Long, who left Monday's doubleheader with Des Moines East early due to illness, collected four hits in Wednesday's doubleheader going 3-4 in the opening game with a game-tying single in the first before scoring the go-ahead run on a tie breaking triple by Daltin Doud, giving Ottumwa 4-3 lead.

Long was also at the tail end of Ottumwa's biggest rally in game two, connecting on the third double of the third inning for the Bulldogs to bring home Schark tying the game at 3-3. Long again scored the go-ahead run in the nightcap for the Bulldogs, crossing the plate on a fielding error by Hoover as Doud reached fourth time in six trips to the plate, putting OHS up 4-3 for the second straight game.

Ottumwa (19-10, 14-0 CIML Metro) heads to Southeast Polk on Thursday for a varsity doubleheader.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.