It was a game of boys among men, and in this case, the ISU baseball club had to play the role of the boys as the Des Moines Area Community College took the bigger, faster and stronger role in a trouncing of the Cyclones.
The two teams squared off in a rare, mid-week matchup Tuesday. DMACC got the best of the short-handed Cyclones and showed the club what it takes to be a top-level team.
The Bears, who are a top junior college group that possesses potential Division I athletes, clearly had the upper hand in the game. But the Cyclones used it as a measuring tool to see what they have and what they still need in order to make a deep run in the national tournament in May.
“We knew it was going to be tough, and we expected them to be the best [team] we’ve played,” said junior Matt Odland. “We looked at it as an actual game and gauge on what our potential can be.”
When a team allows 20-plus runs across the plate, it's hard to pull out positive points from the game, but Odland, the head coach and club president, had no trouble pulling out several points of optimism.
The club was coming off of its second consecutive Cap Timm Classic Tournament title and was beaming with confidence, but as every team does at some point, the Cyclones ran into a brick wall.
The brick wall in this case was built of errors — and lots of them.
The Cyclones were able to play close to a talented Bears team up until the fourth inning, when DMACC was ahead 4-0. A few errors and runs later, DMACC was in complete control and kept pressing, surrendering only one run.
On a day that the wind was blowing and the sun was shining bright, several fly balls were dropped in the outfield that led to a number of runs for the Bears.
“We need to make the routine plays no matter what the conditions are,” said junior Justin Kelm. “We can’t blame this loss on the conditions and just need to keep our heads up.”
With only 13 players, the club could only put so many guys on the mound, which proved to be a disadvantage as the Bears were picking up on the ISU pitchers' tendencies. On the other hand, the Bears, who had a full team, pitched nine different pitchers and kept the ISU hitters off-balance all evening.
The biggest positive the team took away was the constant determination in the face of defeat. The approaches at the plate were good, and the pitching staff was lights out for the first few innings.
“Both teams play nine-inning games, and both teams play on the same field,” said senior Cole Debner. “We had the right mindset going in, but everything spiraled out of control real quick.”
The two teams are already in the talks to schedule another game in the spring semester. With a full team by then, the Cyclones should be able to hang closer and show the Bears why they went to the National Club Baseball Association National Championship last season.
“You only get better by facing the best,” Debner said. “Next time, they will get a different opponent.”