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New Richmond Millers find out more about their pitching

While the New Richmond Millers city league baseball team is still looking for more pitching, it found that Josh Leavens can sure step in when the team needs a second starting pitcher.

Leavens pitched six strong innings on Sunday to earn the victory as the Millers topped the Bay City Blues 8-6. The win makes the Millers 2-0 in the St. Croix Valley League this season.

Hayden Zimmerman is firmly entrenched as the Millers’ top starting pitcher this season, with his two-hit shutout in the season opener as full evidence of that. But the Millers will need more than one pitcher in their 26-game schedule this season. Millers manager Ryan Stephens said he would prefer to have Leavens used in the position as the team’s bullpen ace. But until more starting pitching candidates show up, Leavens is the strongest option available to be the second starter.

Bay City saw a tendency in the Millers’ pitching strategy in the third inning of Sunday’s game and the Blues used it to build a 4-0 lead. The Millers were trying to pitch every batter on the outside corner of the plate. The Blues adjusted by taking those pitches to the opposite field for hits. The Millers began working the inside half of the plate with their pitches the next inning and Bay City’s bats went silent.

That left the Millers with a 4-0 deficit to overcome, which they did in chunks. They got two runs back in the third inning, with the bottom of the batting order providing the spark. Curt Kleinschmidt started the inning with a single and Kyle Miller walked. Jon Will followed with a walk, as did Riley Kannel, which drove home the first run. Zimmerman then delivered a line drive single to score Miller.

Two more runs were added in the fifth inning to tie the score. Miller walked to start the inning and Will’s sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Kannel then drove a double down the leftfield line to score Miller. Mitch Paquin bounced a single up the middle that brought home Kannel.

The Millers took the lead in the sixth inning. Ryan Stephens led off with an infield single and he was sacrificed to second on a Kleinschmidt bunt. Stephens scored when Miller laced a double down the rightfield line.

Another run was added in the seventh inning when Zimmerman walked and scored on a Bay City error. Two more runs were tacked on in the eighth inning. Miller and Kannel scored when Paquin doubled.

Bay City scored two runs in the ninth inning against Millers reliever Coleman Roskam.

The contributions from Miller were a revelation for the team. He reached base three times on two walks and a double and scored each time. Stephens, the New Richmond manager, said getting that sort of production from the ninth spot in the batting order was a huge lift.

Stephens said coming back from the 4-0 deficit showed that the Millers are committed to playing strong fundamental ball this season. They used sacrifice bunts to get runners into scoring position and they produced in two-out situations to get the runs home.

The Millers play two more home games at Citizens Field this weekend. The Millers will be at home on Friday, playing a non-league game against the Blaine (Minn.) Fusion at 7:30 p.m. The Millers return to SCVL play on Sunday, facing Prescott at 1 p.m.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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