Fort Dodge ends skid

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Tyrman Lara of Fort Dodge gets drenched as he runs away from his teammates after driving in the winning score, giving the Dodgers a 6-5 victory over Roosevelt on Thursday

Fort Dodge avoided its first double-digit baseball losing streak in 14 years by staging a late rally to open a doubleheader against Des Moines Roosevelt on Thursday.

The Dodgers plated three runs in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth to trip the Roughriders, 6-5, and put a dramatic end to their nine-game slide. Roosevelt took the nightcap at McNeil Field, 10-5, in a laborious twinbill that took well over five hours to complete.

Head coach Blake Utley’s squad had struggled mightily with growing pains over the last two-plus weeks, losing 13 times in 15 contests after a 3-0 start to the season. But Fort Dodge (6-14 overall) showed plenty of heart in ending its long drought with the comeback, which erased a 6-3 deficit in the final frame.

Sophomore Lucas Williamson, sophomore Bryer Nelson and freshman Shane Halligan drove in consecutive runs to knot the score. All three Dodger runs in the seventh came without a hit.

Sophomore Anthony Wagner then led off the eighth with a double, and after junior Nate Scherff walked and senior Keaton Jones singled, junior Tyrnan Lara ripped a sharp single past a drawn-in infield at third base to seal the deal.

Halligan had an RBI double in the second inning, and Scherff plated a run with a single in the same frame. Fort Dodge wouldn’t score again until its last-ditch effort in the seventh.

Scherff (2-3) relieved started Drew Callon and worked three scoreless innings to earn the victory.

Fort Dodge, which started a combined six freshmen and sophomores, hadn’t dropped 10 consecutive decisions since beginning the 2003 campaign 0-10.

The Dodgers were within striking distance multiple times in the nightcap, but the Roughriders (10-9) plated three runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh to help secure the split.

Williamson was 3-for-4 with a double, while freshman Brycen Bell added two hits, a double, a run scored and an RBI. Jones contributed two hits as well.

The Roughriders, who had won eight of nine overall entering Thursday’s CIML cross-conference doubleheader, led 5-1 in the fourth before Fort Dodge crept back within 5-3. The Dodgers were a bounce or break away from drawing even or taking the lead, but they stranded 12 runners on base, including two in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth, and the bases loaded in the sixth.

Fort Dodge left 12 on base in the opener as well.

Ryan DeLaria was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI in the win for Roosevelt, while lead-off hitter Stephen Loew had three hits, a homer and four driven in.

DeLaria also went deep in the first contest for the Roughriders, who won 33 games a year ago and reached the Class 4A state semifinals.