BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — North Nodaway and West Nodaway have been linked for seven years with a co-op including football, but teammates became rivals on Tuesday night on the baseball diamond.
“Anytime you step on the field, I remind them that we are here to win a game, not to make friends,” North Nodaway coach Cody Jenkins said. “We can talk to them after the game, but we want to go out here and compete.”
The Mustangs (2-3) secured those bragging rights with a 15-7 victory over the Rockets (2-6).
“It is definitely one of our biggest games of the year,” North Nodaway senior Jordan Jenkins said. “We’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while. It just felt pretty good getting the win.”
Jordan Jenkins got the ball for the start and got his Mustangs off to a strong start with just one hit allowed and no runs in the first three innings. Jenkins had struggled with his fastball command, but his breaking ball was on point on Tuesday.
“My slider was working pretty good,” Jordan Jenkins said. “My breaking balls were doing better than my fastballs at some points I felt like.”
Hunter Dawson shutout the Mustangs in the first inning as well, but North Nodaway right fielder Darron Bix got the Mustangs on the board in the second inning with a 2-out RBI single.
“Hunter did a great job,” West Nodaway coach Dennis Chitwood said. “He did his job. He threw the ball well. He kept it in the strike zone, they put it in play and our defense kind of let him down today. We had way too many errors. You can’t win a ballgame when you give them five, six, seven outs an inning.”
The Mustangs added two more runs in the third inning with Andrew Blackford and Dakota Wray each driving in runs. They put up two more in the fourth inning with hits by Bix and Jenkins fueling the inning.
“It feels pretty good to get that much run support,” Jordan Jenkins said.
The Rockets got on the board in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single by Kayden Conn, but with runners on the corners and one out, Jordan Jenkins buckled with a fly out and ground out to limit the damage.
“He definitely had the breaking ball working today,” Cody Jenkins said. “… Anytime you can have at least two of you three or three of your four pitches on, it makes for a nice outing for anybody.”
North Nodaway immediately answered with four runs in the fifth. Wray and Cody Cline had back-to-back hits to start the inning, but the big swing came from Bix again with his third hit of the game — a 2-run single — and scored on an error.
“Once you get that first hit, it helps you understand the pitcher a little bit and it makes you feel more confident when you are up there against the same pitcher,” Bix said.
Bix, the No. 8 hitter, and the bottom of the Mustang order led the offensive attack.
“It is nice to see them have some success up and down the lineup,” Cody Jenkins said.
West Nodaway chipped away with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Mustangs put up four more runs in the top of the sixth inning to stretch the margin to 10 runs.
The Rockets kept the game alive in the bottom of the sixth inning with four runs, including their only extra-base hit of the day on a double to left field by Blake Bohannon.
Jordan Jenkins was able to get out of the frame though as he eclipsed 100 pitches in his six innings of work and had eight strikeouts.
“He is one of our senior leaders,” Cody Jenkins said. “We put him and Andrew Blackford on the mound for a reason, because they are our senior aces.”
The Mustangs put up two more runs in the seventh inning and Brice Trimble finished out the game on the mound with the game’s best defensive play. The freshman snagged a line drive and threw to first for a double-play to cap off a scoreless seventh inning.
“Brice is one of our young pitchers who is very raw, but has a lot of talent,” Cody Jenkins said. “… Making a double-play like that on a come-backer is a real confidence booster.”
Wray and Bix each had three hits for North Nodaway while Cline, Oberhauser, Jordan Jenkins, Andrew Blackford and Aydan Blackford each had two.
Will Cordell had two hits to pace the West Nodaway offense.
The Rockets have a busy rest of the week with road trips to Albany on Wednesday and Falls City (Neb.) on Thursday. The Mustangs will have another huge 275 matchup on Thursday when they host Platte Valley.
“We are starting to gel,” Jordan Jenkins said. “We are starting to play our best right now.”