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The little slip-ups or bad habits Fort Dodge was able to get away with during the first week and a half of the baseball season had nowhere to hide during Friday’s doubleheader at McNeil Field against Waukee.

Dodger head coach Blake Utley admits that was by design.

After winning six of their first seven games to start the 2023 campaign, Fort Dodge was held in check by the Warriors yesterday evening as the visitors swept by scores of 10-3 and 8-1.

Utley wanted to make sure his squad got a feel for the deep end ahead of Monday’s Iowa Alliance Conference Northern Division opener at home against Mason City. After taking care of business against Des Moines Hoover, Hampton-Dumont/CAL, Des Moines North and splitting with Waterloo East, the degree of difficulty changed in a hurry versus Waukee.

“We needed to make sure we’d see a really solid opponent before (this coming week, starting with the Riverhawks),” Utley said. “No disrespect to the teams we’d faced so far, but when we were making the schedule, we knew we had to also face (a program) that would tell us where we needed to get better.

“Sometimes, when you get away with things and still win big, you get a false sense of where you’re actually at as a ballclub. It’s an important reminder of where we truly are and the areas we need to work on. Early on (in a season), you’re getting constant feedback from an opponent. It allows for a better overall picture of where you truly stand.”

The Warriors (5-4 overall) plated four runs to take early control of the opener in the top of the third inning. The Dodgers (6-3) responded with a two-run single by senior Dalton Rosalez in the bottom half of the frame, but Waukee opened the floodgates with a five-run fourth.

Four of the runs FDSH pitchers Landen Grandors and Nathan Beekman surrendered were unearned following errors, and the duo issued four walks, had three wild pitches and hit a batter.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers gave themselves plenty of chances at the plate — with five hits and seven walks — but they stranded nine runners, including seven in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings combined without scoring.

The nightcap was more of the same. Waukee jumped ahead 5-0 early, but Fort Dodge was on the cusp of seizing momentum multiple times. Instead, the Dodgers left the bases loaded in both the third and the fifth with the tying run at the plate.

“It was kind of the story of our night,” Utley said. “I know people will see the scores and think we weren’t really in it, but we could have been. We had plenty of runners on, but credit the (Warrior) pitchers for putting out the fires.”

Rosalez had two hits in the second contest. Sophomore Rylan Kingrey doubled, as did sophomore Jase Nekvinda.

Nekvinda and juniors Jace Johnson and Karch Smith roped doubles in the opener.

Freshman Jaxson Dencklau was impressive in relief, working 3• innings before Waukee finally got to him with three runs in the seventh.

“Jaxson did a great job. Really, all of our pitchers had their moments (of success),” Utley said. “We got burned by some mistakes in the field, some baserunning (miscues), and times where we just didn’t execute at a high enough level to expect to beat a team like (the Warriors). When you give a good ballclub extra outs, it tends to snowball on you.

“This is where you lean on your seniors and more experienced guys, and make sure you learn from (the physical or mental errors). Even (in defeat), it’s an opportunity for us to get better from it.”

Fort Dodge was without the services of sophomore Royce Pederson and junior Drew Moritz, who are both nursing injuries.

The Dodgers square off with Mason City for a Memorial Day doubleheader back at McNeil Field. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.


Waukee 003 501 0 — 10 10 1

Fort Dodge 002 000 1 — 3 5 3

WP–Colin Driscoll (4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K); LP–Landen Grandors (4 IP, 9 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). 2B–FD: Jase Nekvinda, Karch Smith. 3B–W: Grant Sorensen. SB–W: Carter Johnson, Connor Macalpine, Hunter Reed.


Waukee 311 000 3 — 8 9 2

Fort Dodge 001 000 0 — 1 5 2

WP–Nate Danielson (4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K); LP–Landen Hout (2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). 2B–FD: Jase Nekvinda, Rylan Kingrey; W: Grant Sorensen, Colin Driscoll. 3B–W: Conner Macalpine. HR–W: Brady Eklund. SB–W: Grant Sorensen 2, Carter Johnson, Conner Macalpine.

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