New Richmond baseball team looking for timely hits
The first win of the season for the New Richmond baseball team was posted last week, but the Tigers continue to struggle at the plate and on the mound.
The win came last Tuesday in a Middle Border Conference game against Baldwin-Woodville. The Tigers got their best pitching performance of the season from senior Hayden Nelson, who threw the complete game shutout in a 7-0 win over the Blackhawks.
The Tigers were hoping they could carry that energy into Thursday’s game at Prescott. It didn’t happen. Prescott scored five runs in the first inning and the Tigers didn’t threaten until the seventh inning in an 8-2 loss.
The slow starts continued on Saturday at Menomonie. The Tigers gave up two runs in the first inning, but they managed to tie the game with runs in the second and third innings. Menomonie came back with three runs in the bottom of the third inning and that ended the scoring in a 5-2 Mustang win.
The Tigers are now 1-7 for the season. Coach Chad Fehrman is trying to pull the Tigers out of this swoon. Not being able to hold an outside practice until this Monday didn’t help the Tigers’ cause.
“The sticks are cold. We’re not stringing anything together at this point,” Fehrman said. “Getting our guys to compete is the name of the game.”
The win against B-W almost had a bad start too. The Blackhawks loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Nelson struck out the next two batters to escape damage.
The only other Blackhawk threat was snuffed out by an outstanding defensive play in the fifth inning. B-W had runners on the corners and it appeared the Hawks would score when the next batter hit a liner to centerfield. Tiger centerfielder Austin Juhl charged the ball, took the ball on one hop and fired a bullet to second base to get the forceout.
“He’s playing pretty darn hard,” Fehrman said of Juhl.
Fehrman said Nelson’s pitching was critical in the Tigers getting their first win. After walking a batter in the first inning, Nelson pounded the strike zone, rarely getting to a three-ball count in the rest of the game.
The Tigers got their first two runs when Juhl singled home Brady Gaspord and Nelson in the second inning. They added three more runs in the fifth, stringing together hits from Josh Geigle, Jeremy Leavens and Josh Kizer. The Tigers added two insurance runs in the sixth inning.
The loss at Prescott added greatly to the Tigers’ frustrations. After a tough start for Drake Durham, Noah Berger pitched five solid innings in relief.
This year’s Tigers were built with an expectation that the sophomore class would contribute heavily after most of them saw varsity time as freshmen. Consistency has been the big issue for the sophomores.
“They’re not stepping up at the same time,” Fehrman said. “They’re here for a reason. We’ve yet to get it all put together.”
The Tigers didn’t score until the seventh against Prescott. Cole Peterson led off with a single. It was followed by a walk from Geigle, a single from Leavens and a single from Kizer.
Peterson is one of the Tigers who has made a mark offensively. He reached base three times against Prescott and he singled twice against Menomonie.
“Cole gets good at-bats. He’s turned into a leadoff hitter,” Fehrman said.
Gaspord and Juhl scored the Tiger runs on Saturday. Durham and Caleb Manecke were credited with the RBI.
Nelson pitched again for the Tigers on Saturday, allowing three earned runs and seven hits in his second complete game effort of the week.
The Tigers have a chance to make some headway in the MBC standings. They host Durand this Friday, before playing at Somerset next Tuesday.