Tigers think the rebound has begun
They've hit bottom and are now on their way back up.
That's what the New Richmond Tigers believe and their play last week shows they may be right.
The Tigers completed their Middle Border Conference season last Tuesday by beating Glenwood City 9-4. This ends a four-game losing streak in the conference for the Tigers and gives them a final MBC record of 4-4.
That was followed by a game last Wednesday against Lakeland Conference champion Grantsburg. The Tigers were facing Brian Johnson, who pitched in the state all-star game in June. The Tigers and Grantsburg have played some classics through the years and this belongs right with those. Grantsburg was able to edge the Tigers, but not without a battle, edging the Tigers 2-1.
The win over Glenwood City may have been the game where the Tigers locked up the brakes on their losing skid and turned things around. Several times the Tigers were in a position where they could have fallen apart. Each time, they didn't.
Josh Bottolfson hurled the complete game for the Tigers. In recent games Bottolfson was rattled when the defense fell apart behind him. That changed in this game.
"After the Baldwin game he made a decision that he can't control the defense behind him," said Tiger coach John Ball. "He decided he's got to keep his control and his composure."
There were several times during the game where Glenwood City got runners into scoring position, but couldn't get them home. Even when Glenwood City scored two unearned runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3, Bottolfson came back with a 1-2-3 sixth inning. The Tigers then won the game with six runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Marc Simon started the sixth inning rally with a walk and Tommy Wells singled. Tyler Hanson then followed with the pivotal hit, a two-run double. The Tigers followed with consecutive hits from Dan Wells, Scott Emerson, Jeff Engel and Tim Kretovics to produce four more runs.
"It was a game we needed," Ball admitted. "It was more like how we were playing at the beginning of the season."
The Tigers finished the game with 14 hits. Dan Wells led the team with three hits and Engel topped the team with three runs driven home.
That led into Wednesday's game at Grantsburg, a makeup of a rainout from two days prior. This was a sharply played game on both sides, with the Tigers getting five hits and Grantsburg getting four hits against Kretovics, who continued his impressive pitching.
"We played one of our better games all year," Ball said. "On defense we were sound, it was just a couple mental mistakes that cost us runs. We didn't crumble, we didn't give up."
Grantsburg scored an unearned run in the first inning after a dropped pop fly. The Tigers answered that run in the top of the second.
Luke Jensen led off the second with a walk and moved to second on Tommy Wells' bunt. He then scored on a single from Jake Dalton. Dalton and Simon are two of the players who were promoted from the JV for the final games of the season.
Grantsburg scored the winning run on a mental mistake by the Tigers in the fifth inning.
These games lead into Tuesday's regional final against Somerset. The winner of Tuesday's game will be playing in the WIAA Summer Baseball Sectional Tournament, which will be held at Somerset on Friday. Ball said he thought the Tigers, Somerset or Baldwin-Woodville all have legitimate shots to reach Friday's sectional championship game. He pointed to the improved pitching by Kretovics and Bottolfson, plus more consistent defense, as reasons the Tigers could make a run in the tournaments.
New Richmond 9,
Glenwood City 4
GLENWOOD CITY (4)
Ashleson cf 4-0-1, Weeks c 3-1-0, Jackson p 3-1-1, Swanepoel 1b 2-1-0, Myers ss 3-0-0, Graese 2b 4-1-3, Anderson lf 3-0-0, Manor dh 3-0-0, Grant rf 0-0-0, Standaert 3b 3-0-1. Totals 28-4-6.
NEW RICHMOND (9)
D.Wells c 4-2-3, Emerson cf 4-1-1, Engel dh 4-2-2, Peterson lf 0-0-0, Kretovics rf 4-1-2, Jensen ss 4-0-2, Simon 2b 2-1-0, T.Wells 3b 3-1-2, Bottolfson p 3-0-1, Hanson 1b 3-1-1. Totals 31-9-14.
2B-D.Wells 2. 3B-Engel, Kretovics. RBI-Emerson, Engel 3, Kretovics 2, Jensen, Hanson 2.
Glenwood City 000 120 1=4
New Richmond 003 006 x=9
PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO
Bottolfson (W) 7 6 4 1 4 7