Trojans win Valley Division title
Iowa City West won the opener of a two game home-and-home series against the Iowa City High Little Hawks, 7-2, on Monday night. The victory clinched the Valley Division of the Mississippi Valley Conference for the Trojans, and improved their record to 26-8 on the season.
The Trojans rode the arm of Nick Grimsman, as the senior right-hander tossed all seven innings and ended his day with a sparkling 11 strikeouts to just 1 walk.
"He wanted the opportunity to go out and finish it, and he did up upright," said head coach Charlie Stumpff on his workhorse's outstanding performance.
Grimsman struck out the side in the seventh inning, blowing his fastball by Little Hawk hitters in a testament to his endurance. Consistently reaching speeds in the low 80s through his last pitch, Grimsman baffled City High hitters with a crisp three-pitch repertoire that had them off-balance throughout the muggy night.
"A lot of people came out here to watch so there's a lot of adrenaline," Grimsman said. "It feels good and it makes me want to play well."
Stumpff said he never worried about his pitcher's endurance throughout the game.
"The plan is to let him out there as long as they're effective and within a reasonable pitch count. He was everything, good from the first pitch to the last pitch," Stumpff said.
City High starter Tyler Stika could never quite get in a groove. Things got shaky in the first inning with a leadoff walk to Ezra Reiners, who was then moved around on an errant pickoff throw from Stika. Reiners scored easily on a single and the early lead gave Grimsman confidence on the mound.
Despite the gem on the mound from Grimsman, the game wasn't without its share of fireworks.
Three Trojan homeruns broke the back of the Little Hawks, who couldn't quite duplicate the Trojans' quick-strike offense.
The first of the homers was delivered in the bottom of the third inning from senior right fielder Ryan Siems. The 2-0 fastball cleared the 290-foot sign in the right field corner in no time. It was the last pitch that Stika threw on the evening.
"I got ahead in the count. They had to throw me a pitch on 2-0 and I got a fastball that he left up," Siems said.
The adrenaline was pumping for both teams under the lights in an inner-city rivalry game between two top MVC teams, and Siems couldn't help but feel like this game meant just a little bit more.
"If you're not pumped up for this game you're not going to get up at all," he said. "We know we have to hit our stride and go into sub-state strong. We're going to use the games to get to it, and as long as we stay up I think we have a good chance of going a long way."
The Trojans have just four games left in the regular season, but they're set to make a deep run toward the state tournament and beyond.
Stumpff insists that his team, despite clinching the division in a highly-regarded conference, looks no further than finishing out the week strong. Every win, and even every run, matters when it comes down to final rankings. Stumpff credits his team with having the ability to scrap for wins, no matter the competition.
"Our team is really good at grinding games out," Stumpff said. "They get quality at bats. They don't always get on, but they're making people work. And in the long run that'll pay off for you."
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