New Richmond Millers play four home games this weekend
Putting some distance between themselves and the .500 mark was the goal of the New Richmond Millers the past two weekends, but splits both weekends leave the Millers needing a strong second half of the St. Croix Valley League season.
The Millers are 5-3 in the SCVL after splitting games with Elmwood and Hudson over the weekend. The Millers overpowered Elmwood Friday night by a 7-1 score. The Millers came out on the losing end of slugfest in Hudson on Sunday, 9-8.
Millers manager Ryan Stephens said he believes the Millers will need to win nine SCVL games this season to qualify for the state baseball playoffs.
Fans who want to see the Millers in action will have plenty of chances this weekend. The Millers play four games over the weekend and all four will be held at New Richmond's Citizens Field. The only SCVL game of the weekend will be played Friday, with the Millers hosting Plum City at 7:30 p.m. The Millers will be back on their home field 24 hours later, hosting the Haugen Hornets. The weekend ends with a double-header on Sunday against the Exeland Braves. The games are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Friday's game was the first of the season for New Richmond pitcher Hayden Zimmerman, who got a late start after pitching his St. John's University team to the NCAA Division 3 national playoffs. Zimmerman carried that strong pitching over to Friday, striking out the first four Elmwood batters he faced. He finished with 12 strikeouts in seven innings of work, allowing four hits and one run.
Josh Leavens pitched the final two innings for the Millers and he added three strikeouts to the total.
This game was close until the sixth inning. Former Baldwin-Woodville pitcher Dylan Demotts started for Elmwood. He gave up single runs in the second and third innings. Sean Conrad led off the second with a single and he scored on Matt Peterson's groundout. Jon Will battled Demotts through a long at-bat before getting a single to start the third inning. He scored on a single from Leavens.
The Millers got some help from Elmwood's defense in the sixth inning. Dan Leavens began the inning with a single. A walk, error, sacrifice fly and passed ball brought home the first two runs. The final run scored when Peterson launched a triple.
Ryan Telschow led off the seventh with a single and Dan Leavens followed with a walk. They both scored when Elmwood threw the ball away on defense.
New Richmond finished the game with seven hits. Telschow was the only Miller with multiple hits.
With Stephens not available for Sunday's game in Hudson, Will served as the team's manager for the day. He had his hands full with two of the team's workhorse pitchers working fewer innings than anticipated.
Hudson scored twice in the first inning and another in the second inning off Millers starter Sean Conrad. Conrad had to be pulled from the game after the third inning because of a sore arm.
Josh Leavens pitched next. After a trouble-free fourth inning, Leavens got raked in the fifth inning, giving up six runs. Turns out, Leavens had pitched for the New Richmond Senior Legion team on Saturday in a tournament in River Falls.
The bright spot in the pitching was Peterson, who allowed one baserunner in the final three innings.
The Millers offense didn't show anything until the fifth inning. Hudson was using former Millers pitcher Aaron Frei. The Millers briefly took a 4-3 lead by scoring four times in the fifth inning. The Millers loaded the bases, before Will singled to bring home Telschow and Curt Kleinschmidt. Another run scored on a passed ball and Peterson singled home the fourth run.
After Hudson's six-run fifth inning, the Millers kept trying to come back. Kleinschmidt singled and scored on a passed ball in the sixth inning. Gabe Paulson and Peterson scored in the seventh inning. Paulson doubled to lead off the eighth, scoring on Peterson's single. Suddenly, the Millers were down just one run at 9-8.
The Millers had one chance in the ninth inning. Peterson launched a triple to centerfield with two outs. Hudson was able to get out of the jam, getting a flyball to centerfield for the final out of the game.
Three of the Miller veterans, Kleinschmidt, Peterson and Will, each had two hits in the game. The rest of the team totaled two hits.