City High had all sorts of chances on Friday night.
Chances to take an early lead, and chances to win a game late.
The Little Hawks even got a big second chance on an umpire’s call in the seventh inning, but City High just wasn’t able to turn enough of those chances into wins.
Ottumwa scored twice in the ninth inning to edge City High 6-4 in the opening round of the Class 4A Substate 6 tournament Friday at Mercer Park.
“We had a lot of chances,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “We capitalized on some but we didn’t capitalize on a lot, that’s the bottom line. We gave ourselves chances we just weren’t able to pull it out.”
City High twice left the winning run at second base in the final three innings as it ended its season 22-18-1.
Ottumwa (25-15) scored a pair of runs on just one hit in the top of the ninth to advance to the substate semifinals where it will face West High on Monday at 7 p.m.
“We got in some situations late where they got runners on and we were able to shut it down,” Ottumwa coach John Jaeger said. “We always talk about putting the fires out and when something bad happens we need to stop the bleeding right now and our guys just kept their composure.”
City High’s chances started in the bottom of the first when the Little Hawks stranded two runners.
Ottumwa took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Bradley Bramschrieber scored on a Brok Hopwood sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs added three runs on five hits in the third to build a 4-0 lead.
City High stormed back with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Nile Ringen and Caleb Sass each had RBI singles in the three-run City High third that was fueled by a pair of Ottumwa errors.
“They had a couple of seeing-eye singles (in the top of the inning) that got to us and certainly in the game of baseball, momentum can lead to some negative things but on the flipside we were able to come back and get some of that momentum back,” Mitchell explained.
The score remained 4-3 until the seventh when City High got its best chance to win the game.
With runners on first and second and one out, Ringen appeared to hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
However, the base umpire ruled Ottumwa shortstop Chase Wood missed second base on the force out and ruled City High courtesy runner Brady Bigley safe at second.
While Ottumwa players celebrated, Griffin Fellows came around to score from second tying the game at 4-4.
After a lengthy meeting between the umpires, the play stood.
City High had a chance to win the game but Ottumwa starter Parker Thode got pinch-hitter Joey Schnoebelen to pop out to first to end the inning.
“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, I wasn’t happy I know that,” Jaeger said. “I did know that we needed to refocus and our guys did a great job of refocusing.”
Ringen got a strikeout to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the Ottumwa eighth and City High put the winning run on second, but Ottumwa reliever Gage Ryan fanned Fellows to end the threat.
The Bulldogs then got two runs in the ninth when Wood was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Ian Kubbe later drew a bases-loaded walk.
“We pride ourselves on doing the small-ball type of stuff and our kids have accepted that,” Jaeger said. “We showed it there at the end just moving guys around.”
City High got a baserunner in the ninth when Nick Sueppel drew a one-out walk but couldn’t get anything else against Ryder, who struck out four in two innings of scoreless relief.
“We made a lot of improvement this year but we are all so disappointed about not making it out of this game,” Mitchell said. “We really thought that we could so some damage so it hurts.”