Colo-NESCO baseball team hits double-digit win total in 2021: Royals take second in ISC South

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Lucas Frohwein and the Colo-NESCO baseball team celebrated 11 wins in 2021 after going just 4-11 a year ago.

Improvement at the plate and standout year from its ace pitcher helped the Colo-NESCO baseball team reach a double-digit win total and place second in the Iowa Star Conference South Division in 2021.

The Royals went 11-15 overall and 8-5 in the ISC South. They improved four games from last year's COVID-shortened 4-11 season and came in just one game behind Collins-Maxwell in the ISC South standings.

"Overall, it was a good season," Colo-NESCO head coach Brandon Frohwein said. "The guys improved drastically as a team at hitting.  We moved from fourth in the conference last year to second place this year.  We secured a top-four seed in districts, won a district game and competed with the No. 1 seed in our second game."

In ISC South competition Colo-NESCO swept North Tama (1-0 and 8-2) and Baxter (7-0 and 15-6) and earned a 10-9 win over GMG. The Royals were swept by Collins-Maxwell (7-4 and 8-7).

"We had two wins against North Tama and coming into the season we were 1-23 against them," Frohwein said. 

Colo-NESCO was 3-3 in cross-conference games with the ISC North. The Royals scored a pair of decisive 15-0 victories over Clarksville and Dunkerton respectively, split with Riceville, winning 7-6 an losing 9-7, and lost to Don Bosco (12-3) and Janesville (12-0).

"We also had back to back 15-0 conference wins over Dunkerton and Clarksville where we hit really well and Spencer Hansen had nine-straight hitless innings," Frohwein said. "He would have had a chance at back to back no hitters if not for the pitch count rule."  

The Royals were also awarded one forfeit win over GMG.

Outside of the conference Colo-NESCO earned a 13-2 victory over Grand View Christian. The Royals lost to AGWSR (12-1), Eagle Grove (7-4), Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-3 and 16-1), BCLUW (12-3), South Hamilton (15-0), Melcher-Dallas (10-4 and 5-4) and Colfax-Mingo (9-5).

In Class 1A district play Colo-NESCO was able to knock off Madrid by a 3-0 score in its opener. The Royals fell to Coon Rapids-Bayard in the quarterfinals, keeping within striking distance for five innings before falling apart late in a 15-5 setback to end the season.

"The thing I enjoyed most was just getting back to playing baseball and being around the guys without all of the restrictions we had last summer," Frohwein said. "Just getting back to some semblance of normal.  We have a really good group of guys that are a lot of fun to coach."

Colo-NESCO scored 155 runs and gave up 204.

The Royals hit .278 with 37 doubles, six triples, 46 steals and a .394 on-base percentage. Last year they only hit .187 as a team.

On defense Colo-NESCO had a 92.1 % fielding average. That was up from its 88.7 % effort from 2020.

"We made the biggest improvement at the plate," Frohwein said. "We raised our team batting average almost 100 points from last year.  We also improved overall defensively from last year, but still have some room for significant growth."

Hansen and junior first baseman Kenny Cutler both hit well over .300 for the Royals. Hansen made third-team all-state in his sophomore year and Cutler was an all-district selection.

Hansen hit .405 with 10 doubles, 26 runs, 15 RBIs and 10 steals. He made 35 putouts and 27 assists playing in the infield defensively.

Cutler posted a .384 average with five doubles, three triples, 16 steals, 22 runs and 18 RBIs. He only had two errors in 59 chances on defense.

Sophomore catcher Kaleb Gray tallied a .286 average with five doubles, two triples and 13 RBIs. He threw out three runners on defense.

Junior Ben Rouse hit .284 and freshman Lucas Frohwein .282 for the Royals. 

Ben Rouse hit .284 and drove in 15 runs for Colo-NESCO in 2021.

Rouse had 16 runs and 15 RBIs and only made six errors in 55 chances. Frohwein tallied four doubles,12 runs and 18 RBIs and he only recorded one error in 43 chances on defense.

Seniors Trevor Burg and Kaleb Ruffcorn hit .240 and .208 respectively.

Burg had seven doubles, 14 runs and 11 RBIs and he made 27 putouts and 20 assists in the field. Ruffcorn doubled once and drove in four runs and he tallied seven putouts on defense.

"Trevor really improved his hitting his senior year and also provided some pitching — he probably had the best game of his career on senior night," Brandon Frohwein said. "Kaleb started off in a slump and he really started to hit well for us the second half of the season.  I think that is a great lesson for the younger guys that when things aren't going your way, just keep working."

Alex Rouse — Ben's twin brother — had a .333 OBP with four runs and RBIs apiece and he only had four errors in 124 chances. Andrew Grover set a school record for most times hit by a pitch in a season with nine and ended up hitting .220 with a .440 OBP, four doubles, one triple, 14 runs, seven RBIs and only one error in 23 chances.

Ephram Muntz had a .271 OBP with 10 runs, six RBIs and 12 assists. Eighth-grader Breckin Clatt went without an error in 21 chances defensively.

The Royal pitching staff posted a 6.24 ERA with 169 strikeouts and 126 walks in 160 1/3 innings. 

Hansen went a perfect 8-0 with a 1.75 ERA, 926 strikeouts and 26 walks in just 52 innings of work. He broke Cody Corbitt's 2005 school ERA mark of 1.76 and tied the school win record for a season set by Chad Taylor in 1988.

Ben Rouse was 1-4 with a 5.75 ERA, 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 28 innings. Alex Rouse threw 28 1/3 innings and finished 0-4 with an 8.40 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Burg finished 0-3 with 10 strikeouts in 16 innings. Grover was 0-2 with an 8.91 ERA in 11 innings and Gray and Clatt were both 0-1.

With the confidence it built off its second-place conference finish and loss of only two seniors Colo-NESCO will be in contention for the ISC South title and could make it deep into the postseason in 2022.

"We have the majority of our team returning next season including several pitchers," Brandon Frohwein said. "I think that we have a chance to make another big leap next year.  If we stay healthy and put in the work, I think the guys goals for next year should be pretty lofty."