NR baseball team beats B-W, Amery, heads into playoffsIt’s one of those good news, bad news situations. The New Richmond varsity baseball team finished its regular season with a pair of impressive wins last week.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
It’s one of those good news, bad news situations.
The New Richmond varsity baseball team finished its regular season with a pair of impressive wins last week. The bad news comes with the fact that the Tigers may have lost two of their best offensive players during those games.
Last Thursday the Tigers went to Baldwin-Woodville and scored a 5-4 win over the Middle Border Conference champion Blackhawks. That win came two nights after the Tigers won an old-fashioned slugfest at Amery, 21-9.
During the game at Amery, the Tigers lost senior Hayden Zimmerman and sophomore Dan Leavens. Zimmerman was hurt during the first inning, when the Tigers scored seven runs. Zimmerman led off the game with a triple. He batted again in the first inning, and he tripled again. But as he rounded second base, he pulled up with what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury.
In his last at-bat, Leavens felt a pull in his hip while swinging his bat. It appears to be a hip flexor injury.
Tiger coach John Ball said he was unsure if either of these starting infielders would be available on Tuesday, when the Tigers were scheduled to play at Chippewa Falls in the opening round of WIAA Division 1 regionals. The winner of Tuesday’s game will play at River Falls in the second round of regionals this Friday.
The two injuries dampened the enthusiasm over a big offensive day for the Tigers at Amery. The Tigers pounded the ball all over Amery’s park. The Tigers totalled 15 hits, including four doubles and three triples. They also walked 11 times, so baserunners were abundant.
Rod Peterson had a big game in leading the Tigers. Peterson went 4-6 at the plate, including a pair of doubles. He drove home four of the team’s runs. Zimmerman, Leavens, Cole Johnston and Corey Berger each supplied two hits and Johnston drove home three runs.
The Tigers jumped to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but some shaky Tiger defense let Amery come back to tie the game 7-7 in the bottom of the first.
Nick Swystun was then inserted at pitcher for the Tigers and he restored order. Swystun earned the win by allowing two hits and two runs in the final four innings, while striking out six.
The Tigers then faced Baldwin-Woodville, which had already wrapped up the MBC title, in their finale on Thursday. With the injuries from Tuesday, the Tigers had to make several lineup moves. Berger was brought in from centerfield to play shortstop. Jordan Maxon was inserted in center and Swystun played third base.
Cody Torkelson pitched at Baldwin in his final tuneup before tournaments. The Tiger ace gave up five hits and three earned runs in working the complete game. He finished with 11 strikeouts.
The Blackhawks used two sophomore pitchers after burning through both of their varsity starters in a double-header the night before. The young pitchers started roughly, walking four Tigers in the first inning as New Richmond went ahead 2-0. The Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning on a three-run homer by Jake Keefer.
In the fifth inning the Tigers responded by scoring three runs. Mike Jansen and Swystun both had RBI singles in that rally.
After completing the first regular season in spring ball after more than 20 years of playing summer ball, Tiger coach John Ball said he views the season as a success.
“I’ve got to be fairly happy,” Ball said. “We got hurt by going to spring, but it gave our sophomores an opportunity.”
There were several players from last year’s team that had to make decisions on which sport they would play. Several returned to baseball, but others went to track, tennis and golf.