Kopriva comes up clutch in Redhawk victory
Ugly wins are still wins.
This message from North Tama baseball coach Dan Kopriva was indicative of the up-and-down battle that was the Redhawks’ 11-9 victory over Iowa Star Conference foe Dunkerton (2-9) Wednesday night.
Trailing 6-1 through 1 1/2 innings, the Redhawks had to claw back from early struggles and fight past self-inflicted wounds to take the win, thanks in part to a late home run and save from Gabe Kopriva.
Coach Kopriva said the Redhawks (10-8) have had defensive issues lately and need to tighten up in that area of the game. North Tama committed four errors over the course of the night.
“As long as we got more runs at the end, I’m pleased,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not communicating on some pop-ups and fly balls and we’re struggling on defense early. It wasn’t the case early in the year and we’ve got kind of a funk going on with defense and just giving up runs.”
North Tama starter Aaron Snider steadied the ship after the Redhawks gave up three runs in each of the first two innings. He held the Raiders scoreless in the third inning, allowing the Redhawks to tie the game with a run in the bottom of the inning. Dunkerton scored two runs in the top of the fourth, but then disaster struck for the Raiders. They committed three errors in the bottom of the fourth inning, allowing Devin McKinley, Gabe Kopriva, Michael Schrier and Snider to score. North Tama had a 10-8 lead with three innings to play. Dunkerton committed five errors in the game.
Dunkerton scored once in the fifth, ending Snider’s day and bringing the Raiders within one. Snider gave up nine runs (seven earned) on six hits and four walks. He struck out six batters.
No runs were scored in the bottom of the fifth or top of the sixth.
Gabe Kopriva stepped to the plate with the Redhawks in need of an insurance run to make a win more likely. The Redhawks had nine hits on the night — two hits for Gabe and Snider and one each for McKinley, Javen Ayala, Schrier, Austin Unker and Ryan Hosek.
He took matters into his own hands, lifting the ball over the outfield fence to put the Redhawks up 11-9.
Gabe then took to the pitchers’ mound for his second inning of work in relief of Snider.
After a routine groundout, three straight Dunkerton batters reached base — putting the Redhawks in a precarious situation.
But a strikeout and groundout ended the game without fuss — and Gabe said it was faith in his teammates that allowed him to settle down and finish off the Raiders. In two innings of work, Gabe gave up two hits and two walks.
“I just had to put faith in my guys, knowing they’d make a play as they did,” Gabe said. “That helped a lot. Makes you a lot more comfortable knowing you’ve got guys behind you that you can trust.”
North Tama’s next outing is Friday night at Colo-NESCO.