Somerset baseball team tries to secure top seed in WIAA RegionalWith the WIAA baseball seeding meetings scheduled for this Wednesday, the Somerset baseball team tried to solidify its claim as the top team in the Division 2 regional bracket over the weekend.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
With the WIAA baseball seeding meetings scheduled for this Wednesday, the Somerset baseball team tried to solidify its claim as the top team in the Division 2 regional bracket over the weekend.
Somerset coach Brandon Kadlec and Unity coach Matt Humpal both said they would stake a claim for the top seed in the regional bracket if they won their game in Unity’s tournament on Saturday. Kadlec can follow through on that claim after the Spartans scored an 11-6 win on Saturday.
That game capped a busy week for the Spartans, who played five games in a five-day span.
The Spartans ended last week with an 11-11 record, but Kadlec said Somerset’s schedule should carry some weight in the seeding wrangling. Four of Somerset’s losses come among state-ranked teams (two against Prescott, one each against Altoona and Grantsburg).
Barron is expected to be Somerset’s main competition for the top seed in the bracket. Barron entered this week with a 9-7 record. The pivotal factor in selecting the top seed may be their records against the other teams in this region. Somerset is 6-2 against teams in the bracket, while Barron is 1-4.
Saturday’s win over Unity was accomplished with some big stickwork. Jordan Langness, Cody Joiner and Ryan Himes each had two hits in the game. Langness was moved into the leadoff role in this game and he flourished, driving home three runs. Jake Mantalica got the Spartans out to a strong start with a two-run single in the five-run Spartan second inning.
Junior Nate Olin earned the pitching win against Unity, working the first four innings. Austin Bushinger handled the final three innings.
In the first round of Saturday’s tournament the Spartans lost to Turtle Lake-Clayton, 4-2. The Bears are another of Somerset’s strong opponents, possessing a 13-2 record.
Freshman Tyler Lueck was brought up from the junior varsity for this game and he showed the Spartans have another prime pitching option for the future. Lueck threw a one-hitter in his first varsity outing. Turtle Lake-Clayton did most of its damage off four walks and a few Spartan errors.
Kadlec said with Lueck, Olin and sophomores Zack Waalen and Andy Peters, the team should enjoy quality starting pitchers for several more seasons.
The Spartans were limited to five hits in the game.
On Friday the Spartans scored a key Middle Border Conference win by taking down Amery 8-5. Waalen earned the pitching win, allowing four earned runs in the first five innings. Bushinger was untouchable in relief, striking out five batters in two innings to get the save.
The Spartans got their first run on a Dominick Lohmeier double in the opening inning. The Spartans added three runs in the third inning, with Evan Gaddis, Lohmeier and Mantalica each singling home a run.
Amery scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead, but the lead was brief. The Spartans responded by scoring four times in the bottom of the frame.
Himes started the rally with a double. He scored on Bushinger’s single and Bushinger scored on a Mantalica single. Olin put an exclamation mark on the inning by cracking a two-run homer.
Last Thursday the Spartans traveled to Altoona to play the Rails. It was the Spartans who ended Altoona’s season at sectionals last year, when Altoona was the top-ranked Division 2 team in the state. Altoona got a little revenge Thursday, winning 10-5.
Altoona scored seven runs in the first two innings to take the suspense out of the game. The Spartans made it competitive by scoring three runs in the third inning.
Both pitching staffs suffered from a tight strike zone in this game. Altoona’s pitchers gave out 10 walks and Somerset’s staff issued nine walks.
Last Tuesday the Spartans played at New Richmond. In a choppy game where both defenses struggled, the Tigers were able to beat the Spartans 8-6.
The Spartans did a decent job of generating offense, but they left 13 runners on base in the game. Langness, Bushinger and Peters each notched two hits for the Spartans.
Olin got the pitching start and he lasted into the fifth inning. Kadlec said Olin’s downfall was 0-2 pitches, saying five of New Richmond’s nine hits came when Olin had that distinct advantage in the count.
Somerset took the first lead of the game with two runs in the second inning. Bushinger and Himes both scored on a New Richmond error for those runs.
New Richmond answered back with four runs in the bottom of the second. Somerset came back to take the lead on one run in the third inning and two more in the fourth. Langness singled to bring home Waalen for the first run of the fourth, with Derrick Berry scoring on the play after an overthrow. That run gave Somerset a 5-4 lead.
Errors and wild pitches helped New Richmond score twice in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Spartans climbed above the .500 mark in the Middle Border Conference standings with a 6-4 homefield win over Baldwin-Woodville. This gives the Spartans a 7-6 MBC record.
The Spartans had to dig out of a hole after B-W scored four times in the top of the first inning. Waalen wasn’t at his sharpest in the opening inning, but he made up for it with some impressive pitching the rest of the game. Waalen gave up two hits in the first inning and those would be the only hits he surrendered in the game.
The Spartans began their comeback with a three-run burst in the second inning. Olin doubled to bring home the first run and Langness singled home the next two tallies. Langness went 3-4 in the game, making him 8-11 in the past three outings.
The Spartans tied the game in the fifth. Lueck got his first varsity hit, scoring soon after on a wild pitch.
Somerset took the lead in the sixth inning. Bushinger led off with a single and scored on Olin’s double. Langness then drove home Olin.
The Spartans complete their regular season this week. The Spartans finish their MBC schedule on Thursday with a home game against Durand. Somerset’s regular season finale will be played Friday, in a non-conference game against St. Croix Central.