Gunner Smith

photo By Josephine May

Gunner Smith is up to bat at a recent scrimmage.

Summer baseball is finally here, as the Hiawatha 18-and-under team started their all-road schedule on Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader at Corning.

The abbreviated and unaffiliated season has been on hold this summer, cutting nearly a month off the schedule, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. Though the season is recreational only and not officially played under the American Legion, the team has been working hard and it is good to see baseball back in action.

The Braves showed some rust in their season opener, after the high school baseball season and the majority of the team’s spring practices were taken off the table. Hiawatha put their leadoff runner on first on a Corning error in the first, but could not move him past second, while the opposing side scratched across their first run in the bottom of the inning. A 1-2-3 inning for Hiawatha in the second was followed by a 2-run effort from Corning. Hiawatha could not break out of their slump over the next three, while Corning managed 3 runs in each of the following two innings to take the 9-0 win in the opener.

The second game saw a rough start, as a quick first inning for the Braves turned into a 4-run affair for Corning. Hiawatha threatened in the second inning, putting runners on second and third, as Tyler Davis and Smith and Rieger each hit singles, but could not convert, while their opponents built a 6-0 lead heading into the third. Corning blew the lid off the game in the third, plating 5 runs, and the Hiawatha team could not strike back in the fourth, closing the game out 11-0.

The seniors took to Valley Falls on Wednesday night for a doubleheader against the River Bandits. The Valley crew cruised in game one, commanding a 19-1 lead after two innings. Andrew Lierz scored in the bottom of the 1st to give Hiawatha a short-lived lead. After Valley Falls’s hot start, Hiawatha tried to bounce back in the third inning. Gabe Corbett drove in Cody Nevels to lead off scoring, then Tyler Davis doubled in a pair of runs, then Joel Bryan singled in Davis to push Hiawatha to 5 runs, but two quick outs cut Hiawatha’s chances of staving off the run rule off at the knees, as the team fell 20-5.

The nightcap was a much closer affair. An early pitching battle was broken up in the 3rd with Valley Falls taking a 2-0 lead, but the Braves answered the very next inning. Gunner Smith singled in Tyler Davis to get Hiawatha on the board, which pushed Joel Bryan to third base, where he evened up the score on a groundout to the pitcher, tying things up 2-2. The Bandits continued to push in the bottom of the inning, scoring on a single to center and take a 3-2 lead that Valley would not relinquish. Corbett went 2-3 on the game to lead the Hiawatha offense.

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