Tigers break out late, charge past B-W 13-3
When Baldwin-Woodville took a 3-2 lead over the New Richmond baseball team in the fifth inning on Monday, the Tigers were at a crossroads.
If the Tigers were hoping to be contenders in the Middle Border Conference, they couldn't let their MBC opener slip away.
And they didn't.
The Tigers responded by scoring 11 runs in the next two innings, defeating the Blackhawks 13-3.
The Tigers broke the game open with a seven-run fifth inning. Jeremy Leavens led off with a walk. He scored the tying run when Blake Higgins tripled. Kaleb Kier would then start a string of five straight singles as the Tiger batters were suddenly unstoppable.
The team carried that momentum into the sixth inning. Kier led off the inning with a double. The Tigers would later load the bases. Leavens lined a hit to the outfield fence, scoring all three runners to give the Tigers the win on the 10-run rule.
Drew Durham got the starting assignment on the mound, working into the fifth inning. Hayden Nelson recorded the final five outs to get credit for the pitching win.
Tiger coach Chad Fehrman said the team performed much better than in its previous two games. He said the pitchers kept their walk totals low, while the hitters learned to work the count in their favor, giving them a chance at pitches they had a better chance of making good contact against.
Because there were so many games cancelled because of wet grounds, the games from the first half of the MBC season that get played are counting as non-conference games. The Tigers got two of their first half games in last Friday and Saturday, playing at Ellsworth and Osceola.
The Tigers suffered close losses in both games, but that is where the similarities end. The Tigers lost 11-10 last Friday at Ellsworth in the team's first game of the season. On Saturday the Tigers lost at Osceola 2-0.
The surprising part of Friday's game was how well the Tigers hit the ball after spending the past month practicing indoors. The Tigers built an 8-0 lead by scoring four times in each of the first two innings. Singles by Connor Hollern and Drew Durham got the Tigers rolling in the first inning, but the big bash was supplied by Kaleb Kier. He drove an inside-the-park homer to the deep fence at the Hager City ballfield.
Durham supplied the jolt of the second inning, with a three-run double. He then scored on a single by Josh Kizer for the fourth run.
The final two runs for the Tigers were scored on a homer by Jeremy Leavens in the fourth inning. Unfortunately, Leavens would suffer a dislocated finger in the following inning.
The Tigers used four pitchers in the game. Zac Parfitt got the start, followed by Hayden Nelson, Kyle Shilts and Noah Berger. Ellsworth was only able to get six hits, but the Tiger pitchers surrendered 11 walks in the game.
"We were shaking off the rust, getting our feet underneath us," Fehrman said of the opening game. "We got a lot of guys in, guys we needed to see. We don't return a lot of experience."
After pounding the ball at Ellsworth, the Tigers pounded the ball into the slow infield at Osceola on Saturday and couldn't get many hits past the Chieftain infielders. The Tigers were limited to two hits in the loss.
The good news is that a trio of Tiger pitchers also twirled a two-hitter. Berger got the start after finishing the game the night before. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but was sharper the deeper he got into the game.
He was followed to the mound by the Durham brothers. Freshman Drake Durham worked 2.2 innings, showing that the Tigers have a solid lefty option. Senior Drew Durham worked the final inning.
Though the Tigers only got two hits, they did show a discriminating eye at the plate, milking Osceola pitching for 10 walks. The Tiger pitchers also had walk issues, giving up 10 in the game.
The Tigers return to action this Friday with an MBC game at Prescott. The Tigers will also be on the road next Tuesday, playing at Somerset.