Clutch hitting was missing from the Southwestern baseball attack in four home losses to NIACC over the weekend.
In a pair of doubleheaders played in wind chill conditions dipping under 20 degrees, the Spartans had narrow defeats both Saturday and Sunday.
NIACC won 4-2 in nine innings Saturday and 7-2 in the nightcap. The Trojans opened Sunday’s play with a 12-2 win in six innings before going extra innings for a 3-2 victory.
“We’re just not driving people in right now,” said Spartan coach Brian “Bull” Smith.
Smith explained that opening games in conference doubleheaders are now scheduled for nine innings, to resemble postseason tournament play, with the second games scheduled for seven innings.
On Sunday, NIACC pitchers Jacob Gleason and Casey Hall pitched a pair of complete games. Gleason struck out seven in the six-inning opener before Hall went eight strong innings with eight strikeouts in the 3-2 nightcap.
NIACC was the home team because the games were scheduled to be in Mason City, but had to be moved due to weather. NIACC improved to 4-0 in the conference, while SWCC fell to 0-11 overall and 0-4 in the league.
Southwestern also had a good starting pitching performance in the 3-2 game, as Landon Camp left in a 2-2 tie with two outs in the seventh. Ian Dyer worked out of a jam in the seventh but got in trouble with a leadoff hit and a walk. The runners advanced on a wild pitch and the winning run scored on a passed ball.
“Landon had a good start. He was throwing strikes,” Smith said.
NIACC broke open a 4-2 game with eight runs in the sixth inning in the opener.
On Saturday, Alex Lawson was on the mound for Southwestern in a 2-2 game in the sixth inning. The Trojans tallied two more runs to take the pitchers’ duel as the teams combined for only nine hits.
In the 7-2 game, Jason Roberts was pitching in a 2-2 game until two runs scored on an error, opening the door for NIACC to add a couple of insurance runs. Matt Mayden had two of Southwestern’s eight hits in the game.
Southwestern, down to nine available pitchers, plays at Missouri Valley (Marshall, Mo.) on Wednesday before hosting Ellsworth in weekend conference doubleheaders.