Saturday, October 23, 2021
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Hargens helps Stars split with Red Top

The defending Iowa Valley League champion Stars were in need of a spark in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader with Red Top.

After being blitzed 13-6 in the opener at Mount Mercy's Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex, the Stars turned to a pitcher who felt right at home at the brand new facility.

Blake Hargens, who just completed his junior season at Mount Mercy, took the mound for the Stars in Game 2. He pitched a complete-game three-hitter as the Stars salvaged a split with a 7-2 victory.

"We always like to at least split, especially if we lose the first one," Hargens said. "We just needed to pick things up around here in the second game."

Players on both teams had some trouble adjusting to not only the all-artificial turf playing surface, but a brutal sun that made it almost impossible for the right fielders on both teams to track fly balls in the second game.

"It felt really good throwing on a mound that I know," said Hargens, a Kennedy grad who was 3-and-4 this past spring for the Mustangs. "We had troubles (at Mount Mercy) adjusting to the sun and playing on the turf to start the season. It is something that guys in this league will have to get used to."

Hargens was locked in a 1-1 pitcher's dual with Red Top's Darren Kilpatrick until the sun field took over.

Kilpatrick retired the first two batters of the fourth inning before Devin Holmes lifted a fly ball to right-center that just eluded Red Top's Andrew Utterback for a double.

Lucas Larson and Jared White followed with fly balls to right that Utterback could not locate. Each scored a run, making it 3-1. After a pair of walks, Tyler Dralle came through with a two-run triple to right-center and Cody Bell brought home Dralle to cap the six-run inning.

Dralle lost a ball in the sun in the top of the sixth on a fly to right from Nick Day that turned into an RBI double, plating Kirby Kerr.

"It was a high sky out there today and Andrew doesn't always play the outfield," said Red Top Manager Adam Sadler. "It's tough on a day like this and they had the same problems.

"That hurt us a little bit, but what can you do."

Sadler felt good about Red Top's play in the opener. The Toppers added Kirkwood players Kerr and Taylor Jackson to their roster. They combined with former Eagle and soon-to-be Iowa Hawkeye Izaya Fullard to push their team to six runs in the first inning.

Noah Dostal's three-run homer capped the inning. Connor McCaffery added a long three-run shot over the right-field fence in the fifth inning. Nick Drahozal and Utterback combined to limit the Stars to six hits. Red Top had three errors in the fourth that led to five Stars runs.

Red Top sits at 1-3 after the first two weeks of the season, but Sadler likes the way his roster is shaping up.

"It felt more like a regular lineup for us," Sadler said. "We're still missing one or two guys. It felt more like what we are going to have for the rest of the season today."

Fullard had three hits and drove in four runs. Larson and Bell had two hits each for the Stars (2-2).

Both teams have home games next week. The Stars will host Williamsburg in a 1 p.m. twinbill at Mount Mercy. Red Top will be the home team for a 3 p.m. doubleheader against Watkins at Watkins.


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