Tiger baseball looks for learned experience to advance in postseason play

Andrew Brown - Sports Reporter
ADM baseball head coach Jason Book heads back to the dugout following the conclusion of an innng this season. PHOTO BY ANDREW BROWN/DALLAS COUNTY NEWS

Despite living in a COVID-19 world, there’s been plenty of excitement to keep people interested. Part of that has come from the ADM High School baseball team that continued the efforts from a magical 2019 campaign and field that into 2020.

Now, ADM comes fresh off of a regular season posting a 9-7 record and those efforts have landed them a home-field advantage to kick off the 2020 postseason, the first home postseason battle for the Tigers in over five years. ADM’s claim to late-season fame last year was the use of veteran experience to boost them to the state tournament for the fourth time in program history. The first obstacle on the road back to the state tournament in 2020 will be a battle against Little Hawkeye Conference member Newton (1-16).

Despite the loss of seniors from last season, the Tigers still utilized experience (six players with 15 or more games started last season) to present fans with an exciting season. ADM kicked off their shortened season winning six of their first seven games of the season.

“We have a lot of guys on this team who are just good all-around athletes,” began Tiger head coach Jason Book. “They’ve come together and played smart baseball and let the game come to them, not the other way around.”

The Tigers hot start continued with the help of something that eluded ADM baseball in prior seasons, and that would be early offense.

“We’ve done a good job of cashing in early opportunities early on in the season,” said Book.

That has seemingly been the motto of the season for ADM as nearly 50 percent of the team’s overall scoring has come within the first three innings for ADM. That will bode well for the Tigers as they take on a Cardinal team that has averaged over ten runs allowed in 2020. ADM themselves has had no trouble touching up the run column and a good part of that offensively has come from the power bats. In averaging five runs per contest, the Tigers have collected 27 doubles on the year while averaging nearly three extra-base hits per game. ADM’s offensive power hasn’t just come from the bats themselves. The Tigers have found many different ways to be productive including reaching base on error 21 times, via hit by pitch eleven times, all while being issued 38 walks total across 2020. That combination of aggressiveness and patience at the plate will help the Tigers outlast a Newton squad that averages over 126 pitches per game.

Eight batters for the Tigers have struck ten or more hits on the season highlighted by Tate-Stine Smith. The junior has struck a hit in every game played this season with a team-best 26 total hits. He has also helped to boost a strong pitching staff that coach Book was excited about before the season began.

“We knew we had a lot of good elements in the pitching staff heading into the season,” began Book. “We knew Chase (Anderson) would be good, we knew Zach (Fuller) would be good. We knew Tate had the capability to be and he really showed that this season. We’ve had a lot of people step up this year and I’m not afraid to throw any one of them out against anybody’s offense.”

Of course while on paper, ADM looks to capture the win handily, the Tigers are a prime example of how important never overlooking an opponent can be.

“Last year we did a good job of getting hot at the right time,” began Book following the 2019 regular season. “Just goes to show that once the postseason starts, records can be thrown out the window. You have to bring your A-game every night out.”

That same mindset can be put on ADM’s recent losing skid where they’ve come out on the unfortunate end of four straight contests.

“We battled back, fought adversity, and failed and that’s actually a great thing for us in learning how to face adversity,” said Book.

ADM has indeed faced adversity and found ways to win if not be competitive in nearly every game. Aside from the season opener, ADM has allowed a mere 14 combined runs in their losses. ADM will have to keep a strong approach even against a one-win Newton squad. The Cardinals have been rather deceptive this season, forcing 41 total walks on the season. Pitching-wise, it’s as if ADM mirrors what the Newton offense has done this season. The Cardinals have struck out offensively 120 times this season while the ADM pitching staff has set down 121 batters via strikeout on the year.

There’s a lot of optimism and excitement for the Tigers as they host the Cardinals tonight. It will be just the fifth game between these two teams since the 2011 season. ADM has the edge, winning three out of the five battles. The sixth installment of the matchup will take place from Tiger Field tonight with first pitch set to kick things off at 7 p.m.