Following a short, two-game, two-loss week, the Cascade baseball team is looking to secure a bit more consistency on the offensive spectrum as it heads into the final week of the regular season.
The Cougars kicked off the short week traveling to West Delaware where Riley Reed and Haris Hoffman were the only two Cougars to manage a hit, or reach base for that matter.
“We just didn’t come up with the hits that we needed,” coach Roamn Hummel said. “We had a couple opportunities with guys on second base, but strike outs were a rut that we’ve been running into lately.”
Kaleb Topping took the loss on the mound, throwing five complete while giving up one earned run on four hits, walking two and striking out three in the 1-0 loss.
“Kaleb threw outstanding and we played good defense, but we just didn’t come up with the timely hit that game,” Hummel said.
Hoffman also threw an 18-pitch inning, giving up no runs and one hit.
Errors and free bases proved to be costly for the Cougars while hosting top-ranked Davenport Assumption July 5.
Despite picturesque weather, tensions were running high, with enough animosity between the umpires and Assumption’s coaching staff that a warning was given and Cascade’s athletic director was even called onto the field at one point.
Not that it helped the matter any, but beaned batsmen were a common theme throughout the game, with Assumption batters getting plunked four times and Cougar batters three.
Reid Rausch started the game on the mound, giving up one unearned run off three hits while striking out two in his two innings of work.
Compounded with three walks from Cougar pitching staff, the free passes to the pads added up.
“That’s something you just can’t do — when you’re playing teams that good, you have to be able to play a really clean defensive game, throw good pitches and not put guys on base because a good team is going to take advantage,” Hummel said. “I think they were by far the best team we’ve played this year.”
Rausch was relieved by Tom Knepper, who gave up five earned runs and was given the loss during his two innings of work.
Wil Roling came in during the fifth to relieve Knepper and gave up two runs early. In the bottom of the seventh, Assumption extracted six additional runs from Roling, cementing the 15-4 loss.
Hummel said going into the last week of regular season play, they are focusing on finding more offensive consistency in the lineup.
But, Hummel thinks pitching-wise, there is a lot to lean on in their top-four hurlers, especially seasoned vets Hoffman and Rausch.
“Eli (Green) stumbled a little bit against Cedar Rapids Washington but since then he’s been really good and Kaleb has been good all year for us,” Hummel said. “I think we just need to give those guys some rest to make sure they’re good to go come post season.”
The Cougars are also adding more strength to the squad with the late addition of Roling and the return of Otting.
“Defensively, having Wil back has helped a lot,” he said. “We don’t have to scramble around with so many different guys.”
Otting had previously missed several games while he was attending Iowa State football camp, but Hummel said he will be able to commute for the remainder of the season.
Hummel said Otting’s presence will help extend the lineup a little bit, and that he is a solid glove and can work from the mound when called on.
“It just adds a dimension that we didn’t have for a few weeks there,” he said. “Our guys have proved they can win without him, but adding a guy like that gives the guys a lot more confidence.”
Hummel said he is not sure if/when canceled games with North Cedar and Clayton Ridge will get made up, but it is looking to be a possibility Thursday or Friday.