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Big third inning propels Redhawks over Warhawks in IC 9-3

July 11, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The North Tama Redhawks were seeing black and yellow on Tuesday, July 9 as they played West Fork at Duane Banks Field on the University of Iowa campus, blowing open the game in the third inning as they took a 9-3 win over a talented Warhawks team.

"I wanted to treat these kids and knew this would be a fun place for them," coach Dan Kopriva said. "For even the coaches, we're looking through the facilities and are wowed. We all enjoyed the park, but it's for the kids."

Even as the Redhawks admired the field and facilities to the Hawkeyes enjoy, they still knew they had a game to play against a Warhawks squad with 20 wins on the season. Under the big lights, Kopriva decided to go with Ryan McLean at pitcher as the Warhawks rested their top two pitchers for the upcoming postseason.

Article Photos

Tyler Morrison celebrates after an in-the-park homerun at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.

"We had the pitching matchup, but this was a big game for us to put on our resume," Kopriva said. "They are a quality team that was ranked this season."

Playing as the visitors, the Redhawks saw the top of the order handled deftly by the West Fork defense before responding with a stop their own in the first inning. The North Tama bats came alive in the second inning at Skyler Staker and Kopriva each hit to get on base, scoring as Luke Pennell batted both in. The Warhawks would shoot back with a run in the bottom of the inning, yet little prepared them for a deep smack down the middle by Tyler Morrison for an in-park homerun. A second hit by Staker sent Hale Hulme home before Ryan McLean scored himself home along with Staker and Kopriva once again to take a 7-1 lead.

"Ryan is our ace this year and we got to win with him on the mound," Kopriva said. "He gave us a chance to win today while also keeping under the count to pitch during Districts on Saturday."

Staker would score his third run of the evening in the fifth as the Redhawks defense allowed a second West Fork run in the fourth. Wishing to keep the pitch count down for McLean, the junior was relieved after eight Ks on the day. Senior Cael Even stepped up on the mound for his first pitch of the season, closing the game only allowing one walk and one run.

"I'm really pleased with Cael," Kopriva said. "He hasn't pitched much in his career, but he came in at the end today and closed the door."

A second run by Morrison in the top of the six gave a cushion to the Redhawks lead as they would walk off Duane Banks field with a 9-3 win pushed by 12 hits on the day for North Tama.

"I'm ecstatic about 12 hits," Kopriva said. "We needed to come out today and those were quality line drives. That hit Morrison had would have been out in our park. That inside-the-park homerun is the most exciting play in baseball and I got to see Tyler do it twice this season. I've never seen that in my 20 years coaching. Skyler came out of his slump with three hits today. We're getting these guys who need to hit coming around for us."

The Redhawks would end their season with a 4-2 win at home over Lynnville-Sully on Wednesday, giving them a 19-9 record ahead of hosting Central City for District play on Saturday, July 13.



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