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Eight in a row

Four doubleheader sweeps get Solon’s baseball team moving in the right direction
Chris McNutt slides into home for Solon’s first run against The Iowa City Regina Regals June 12 in Solon. McNutt homered on successive days against Regina and Vinton-Shellsburg.

SOLON– The Solon varsity baseball team is on a roll.

The Spartans have reeled off eight straight victories, including last week’s doubleheader sweep of Iowa City Regina, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A.
Since a close June 5 loss to fourth-ranked Davenport Assumption, the Solon squad has taken two games each from Center Point-Urbana (5-3, 11-0), West Delaware (2-1, 3-1), Regina (5-3, 15-13) and Vinton-Shellsburg (7-1, 1-0).
“The X factor this week was pitching,” said head coach Keith McSweeney. “With the exception of the second Regina game, our pitchers only yielded five runs in five games (or 35 innings). That’s exceptional.”
Tim Lance went the distance on the mound in the first game against Regina, allowing five hits and only one earned run while striking out three.
Solon took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning after Chris McNutt was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a single by Austin Holub, then scored on a sacrifice. Mitch Silberstein delivered a two-out double later in the inning to score base runners Holub and Colton Dall.
Regina tied the game in the sixth, but Solon tagged on two more runs in their half of the inning for the 5-3 win.
In the second game, the Spartans came up with 10 runs in the first three innings and then held on for a wild 15-13 win.
Elijah Kane, Brandon Kramer and Jerad Lester combined for seven innings of work, with Lester getting the win.
McNutt had a three-run home run, while Kane was 4-4, scoring four times.
Regina out-hit Solon 25-13, but the Spartans came up with 11 walks.
“We are very excited about the direction of this team,” McSweeney said. “We have taken some very positive steps defensively these last few weeks and our pitching staff is quickly becoming a strength of the team.”
When senior Todd Oberthien is on the mound, McSweeney believes the team can compete with anyone in the state. “Juniors Dalton Ferguson, Nathan Hawkins and Mitch Silberstein have also flashed early in the season on the mound,” he said. “Their improvement has been very important (and will be important) for us to develop consistency in our game to game performances.”
Silberstein pitched a gem against Vinton-Shellsburg June 13, allowing one hit and no earned runs in a 7-1 win in which he struck out seven batters.
McNutt added a solo home run, while Dall and Logan Linderbaum each had a double.
Hawkins picked up the win in the second game, combining with Ferguson and Oberthien to limit the Vikings in a 1-0 win.
“One of the keys to our success as we move forward is for our guys to continue to grow as situational hitters and to finish games,” McSweeney said. “But we are trending in the right direction in both of those areas and I expect this team to go on a run. Our goal is to peak at the end of the season.”
The wins moved Solon to 11-4 on the season.
The Spartans head on the road this week for games against Central DeWitt, Waterloo Columbus and Anamosa.