New Richmond baseball team bashes three homers in win
Facing Middle Border Conference cellar dweller Baldwin-Woodville was just what the New Richmond baseball team needed to recharge its offense.
The Tigers pounded out 13 hits and scored in each of the first four innings to post a 14-3 win over the Blackhawks last Friday in Baldwin. The win raises the Tigers’ record to 4-4 in the MBC, leaving them tied with Somerset for fourth place at the start of this week’s action.
It wasn’t just that the Tigers were hitting the ball on Friday, they were hitting it with authority. The Tigers bashed three homers in the game, along with two doubles. The biggest of the hits was a grand slam homer by senior Jeremy Leavens that capped a seven-run third inning.
The wind always seems to be blowing hard when the Tigers play at B-W and they took full advantage of the windy conditions. Sophomore centerfielder Austin Juhl was the first Tiger to homer, putting a shot over the leftfield fence in the second inning. After a strong start to the season, Juhl had been struggling of late. With last Thursday’s rain, the team spent most of the practice at the indoor batting cage. The coaches noticed Juhl had gotten away from his compact swing. With some refinements, his swing was back to its early-season form on Friday.
Senior Hayden Nelson hit the first of two homers in the third inning. It was a solo shot, moments after two Tigers had scored on a double steal and throwing error by the Blackhawk catcher.
The Tigers continued putting runners on base, setting the stage for Leavens’ homer, which put the Tigers ahead 11-0.
A number of Tigers had uplifting offensive games on Friday. Josh Kizer had three hits and drove home three runs. Josh Geigle reached base four times, twice on walks and twice on singles. Nelson and Leavens both scored three times in the game.
Nelson pitched the complete game victory. He threw a three-hitter, with one of the hits being a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning.
Friday’s win was uplifting for the Tigers after they had another near miss against one of the conference leaders on Tuesday. Ellsworth is the top-ranked Division 2 team in the state and is the undefeated MBC leader. The Tigers have given Ellsworth all it could handle both times they met. The first meeting ended in a 6-5 Ellsworth victory on April 10. When they met last Tuesday, Ellsworth needed a run in the top of the seventh to escape New Richmond with a 3-2 decision.
The Tigers led in both games against Ellsworth. In Tuesday’s game, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Brady Gaspord led off the second inning with a double and Caleb Manecke followed with a single. Gaspord scored on an Ellsworth error. Manecke came home on a sacrifice fly from Keilan Mehls.
In the third, fourth and seventh innings, the Tigers were able to get runners in scoring position, but couldn’t bring any of them home.
Ellsworth got runs against New Richmond starting pitcher Noah Berger in the third and fifth innings. Ellsworth used a pair of singles and a passed ball to generate the go-ahead run in the seventh inning against New Richmond reliever Drake Durham. Durham recorded seven outs after he entered the game and all seven were on strikeouts.
The offensive bright spot of the game for the Tigers was Manecke, who singled in all three of his at-bats and stole two bases. The Tiger coaches have been calling for the players to be more aggressive in their at-bats and Manecke is one player who has followed those instructions.
Tiger coach Chad Fehrman said hitting in timely situations was the only thing the Tigers didn’t do well in this game.
“Defensively, we did things the right way,” Fehrman said, pointing out that the Tigers are 5-4 since the disastrous opening week of the season.
The Tigers were in the middle of hosting Prescott on Monday when the umpires made the decision to call the game because of wet grounds. The decision seemed to catch both coaches by surprise. Prescott was leading 2-0 when the decision was made. The game will be made up this Friday in New Richmond at 5 p.m.
That creates a busy end of the week for the Tigers. They were already scheduled to play at Durand on Thursday and to host Chippewa Falls in a double-header on Saturday. The Tigers then have a couple days off before hosting Somerset next Tuesday.