By Sam Parsons
The Oskaloosa Indians baseball team got their season started on Monday and Tuesday this week with a road tilt at Albia followed by their home opener versus Fairfield.
Monday at Albia
The Indians began their season against the Albia Blue Demons almost exactly one year after an Aiden North walk-off home run lifted them over the same team to open their 2022 campaign. The Indians and Blue Demons traded runs to start: Wyatt Grubb drove Austen Coenen in with a single in the top of the first and Jarrod Parks mashed a solo home run in the top of the fourth, but Albia answered each time with runs of their own.
The Blue Demons really got rolling in the bottom of the fourth when they plated two runs and followed it up with a 4-run 5th inning in rallies led by Wyatt Beckwith, Drake Irwin, and Drew Chance. The Indians weren’t able to provide immediate answers and found themselves trailing 8-2 entering the sixth inning.
It was here that the Indians found their own groove and battled back. Jarrod Parks got the rally started in the top of the sixth with a 1-out single; Wyatt Grubb followed with a single of his own, advancing Parks to third, and Jaden DeRonde brought Parks in with a sacrifice fly. The Indians would then see their 7-8-9 hitters all reach base: Logan Hoskinson drew a walk, then Garrett Roethler hit a clutch 2-run single, and Griffin Snitker entered the game and delivered a pinch-hit RBI single of his own. Just like that, the deficit was trimmed to 2 runs.
Jaden DeRonde, after entering the game in the fifth inning as a pitcher in relief of Cael Butler, set down the Blue Demons in the bottom of the 6th to keep the Indians in the game. The top of the seventh began auspiciously: Austen Coenen drew another walk and Aiden North reached base with a single. Jarrod Parks then came through with his 3rd hit of the night to drive Coenen in. With no outs, the Indians had cut the deficit to 1 run, but unfortunately ran out of steam from there. The next 3 Indian hitters were set down in order, and the tying run was stranded at 3rd. The Blue Demons left with the opening day victory, 8-7.
Tuesday vs Fairfield
Less than 24 hours later, the Indians played their home opener against a Fairfield squad that owned a 12-6 record over them dating back to 2010. That didn’t bother Osky: after Garrett Roethler got the start on the mound and escaped trouble with a scoreless top of the first, the Indians saw each of their first three hitters reach base including a fielder’s choice to set up a 3-run bomb from Wyatt Grubb to take a 3-0 lead.
The second inning followed without much incident: Roethler held the Trojans at bay once again while the Indians could only reach base once. In the third, however, Fairfield plated their first – and, ultimately, their only – run of the game after their 1-2-3 hitters all reached with bases on balls, Roethler exited the game, and Kam Criss entered, surrendering an RBI single to cleanup hitter Caden Allison two batters later. Tough luck then entered the fold for the Trojans as DH Luke Konczal hit a line drive straight at Jarrod Parks at 1st, who was able to apply the tag to Allison immediately with ease for the double play to help Criss escape the jam, preserving the 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the third.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Osky: Kam Criss would go the rest of the way on the mound, finishing the night with 4 innings and 0 earned runs allowed. Fairfield’s Isaac Harris settled in on the mound and delivered two more scoreless frames before Osky got back on the board in the 5th inning with two more runs: Austen Coenen drew a walk and Aiden North mashed a double to center field to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. A passed ball put Coenen across, and Jarrod Parks brought North in with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-1 ballgame entering the 6th.
Another scoreless inning by Criss ensued, and the Indians’ offense roared back to life in the bottom of the 6th. They reached base with 8 out of 9 hitters, and the offensive onslaught included a 2-RBI single from Coenen, an RBI single from Grubb, who finished the night with 4 RBI, and errors on balls in play from North and Parks, as well as a walk from Tucker DeJong. In the home half of the inning, the Indians clinched the game by the 10-run rule, 11-1.
Oskaloosa (1-1) will play their next game at home next Monday against Ottumwa. The game will be broadcast on 104.9 FM and on kboeradio.com.