New Richmond Millers' pitching going through growing pains
The elbow injury to ace pitcher has left the New Richmond Millers adult baseball team relying much more heavily than planned on the team’s younger pitchers.
There’s little experience pitching at this level and with that lack of experience, there will be some growing pains.
Two pitchers made their first career starts over the weekend for the Millers. With three games in three days, the thin pitching staff was stretched to its maximum. The Millers lost all three games over the weekend, but the games served as a chance to get the young pitchers accustomed to this level.
The best game of the weekend came Friday night at New Richmond’s Citizens Field, where the Millers lost to the Eau Claire Bears 4-3. Hayden Nelson, a recent New Richmond High School graduate, pitched the complete game for the Millers.“He threw their guys off,” New Richmond manager Ryan Stephens said. “He definitely toughed it out. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”The Millers managed three runs in the game, despite getting one hit, which was a ninth inning single from Josh Leavens. New Richmond took a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning when walks to Coleman Roskam, Kyle Miller and Grant Nelson loaded the bases. Roskam scored on Jon Will’s groundout.The Millers scored again in the eighth on walks to Zac Parfitt and Mitch Paquin, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball.The score was tied 2-2 heading into the ninth inning, when the Bears got a two-run homer to snap the tie. The Millers had their chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. With runners on second and third, Will singled, getting one of the runners home. The next New Richmond batter struck out to end the game.Things went downhill from there for the Millers. They played at Osceola on Saturday and lost to the Braves 11-0 in seven innings. Former Millers player and NRHS graduate Blake Berger led the Braves. He hit two homers, including a fourth inning grand slam homer.Parfitt started on the mound at Osceola. Stephens said that Parfitt wasn’t happy with his first start, but it gives him a starting point on which he can build.The Millers had eight hits in the loss. Miller had two hits. The team’s best scoring threat came in the fourth inning when Curt Kleinschmidt doubled, but he was stranded on base.The loss drops the Millers record in the St. Croix Valley League to 2-3.The weekend wrapped up with the Millers hosting East Bethel, Minn., on Sunday in a non-league game. The Millers took some lumps again, losing 14-2. Leavens took the pitching loss in the game.The Millers scored in the third and sixth innings. Will singled home Paquin for the third inning score and Leavens singled home Parfitt in the sixth inning.Despite the recent rough patch, Stephens said the team is still on schedule to make the state playoffs this season.“It’s a young team. We just need fans to understand that,” Stephens said. “Stick around. This is just the start-up process.”The Millers resume their league schedule this Saturday, when they host Ellsworth at Citizens Field at 7:30 p.m.