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Four straight wins have Somerset baseball team rising quickly

Somerset senior Dominick Lohmeier dives safely back to first base on a pickoff attempt in a recent Spartan game.

One big week helped the Somerset baseball team revive its season. A win Monday continued their streak.

The Spartans scored their fourth straight win on Monday, defeating Osceola 9-3. The game was played under the lights at Osceola's Oakey Park.

The win moves the Spartans into a tie for fourth place in the Middle Border Conference standings with Baldwin-Woodville. Both teams have 4-4 records.

The Spartans used three three-run bursts to put away the Chieftains on Monday. A triple by Nate Olin drove home the Spartans first two runs in the second inning. Jake Mantalica then used a squeeze bunt to get Olin home.

Dominick Lohmeier, Ryan Himes and Austin Bushinger chased home runs during the Spartans' third inning rally that raised the lead to 6-0.

The Spartans final three runs were scored in the fifth inning. They were the result of singles from Lohmeier, Bushinger, Mantalica and Derrick Berry.

Zac Waalen earned the pitching win as he continues to establish himself as the Spartans' top starting pitcher. Waalen gave up one run in the fifth and two in the sixth. Bushinger came on to pitch a scoreless seventh.

Pivotal week

The Spartans climbed back to the .500 level after defeating Baldwin-Woodville, Durand and St. Croix Falls last week.

The wins against B-W and Durand also made the Spartans relevant again in the Middle Border Conference race. The Spartans improved to 3-4 in MBC play, putting them a game out of third place in the conference standings.

The win over Baldwin-Woodville was an indication that the Spartans are finally back at full health. The Spartans bashed the Blackhawks 13-6, scoring five runs twice in innings during the game. The five-run seventh inning included seven Spartan hits.

"We were averaging five to six hits a game so seven hits in an inning was pretty awesome," said Somerset coach Brandon Kadlec.

The seven-hit seventh wrapped up a 19-hit effort for the Spartans. Olin led the hit parade with three, including a solo homer in the third inning. Waalen also had three hits and six other Spartans produced two hits. Andy Peters led the team with three runs batted in.

Waalen was also the winning pitcher. He worked 5.2 innings, striking out nine and allowing three earned runs.

The Spartans had their hands full when they faced winless Durand on Thursday. The Spartans were down to their final out before rallying in the seventh inning to overcome the Panthers 6-4.

"They had us beat," Kadlec said. "Durand's playing much better."

Durand scored two runs in the first inning and the Spartans matched that output in the top of the third inning. Durand immediately scored in the bottom of the inning to regain the lead. The Panthers added another run in the fourth to lead 4-2.

The Spartans didn't score again until the seventh inning. Peters started the rally by reaching on an outfield error. He stole second and scored on Jordan Langness' single. Langness scored the tying run on a single from Evan Gaddis. Lohmeier then reached on an error. Austin Bushinger followed with a single lined between the first and second basemen which scored two runs.

Peters earned the win in relief. He struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth inning and set the Panthers down without a baserunner in the seventh inning. Olin had worked the first five innings for the Spartans, allowing four hits and one earned run.

Kadlec said one big difference in the team's improved play is having his seniors healthy. The coaches put the seniors in the 3-7 spots in the lineup, which they consider the prime run-producing slots.

"The seniors are the guys who have to do it," Kadlec said.

Another late rally worked for the Spartans in a non-conference game at St. Croix Falls on Friday. Both teams scored once in the second and third innings. The score remained 2-2 until the Spartans netted the winner in the eighth inning.

Lohmeier led off the eighth with a single and was bunted to second base. Peters' ability to come through in clutch situations has led Kadlec to call him "The Peters Magic Show." Peters came through again, fisting an inside pitch into rightfield for a single that scored Lohmeier.

Peters started on the mound, working the first three innings. Bushinger worked the final five innings, striking out nine Saints.

Doubles from Waalen and Gaddis were the key hits that led to the Spartan runs in the second and third innings.

The Saints threatened in the eighth inning, before the Spartans received a huge defensive play. Nate Magnuson caught a line drive up the middle and stepped on second base to get an unassisted double play. Bushinger struck out the following batter for the final out of the game.