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Young New Richmond Millers team gives Osceola a battle

New Richmond catcher Kyle Miller tags out an Osceola runner trying to score in the third inning of Friday’s game. New Richmond shortstop Mitch Paquin made a diving stop, with the New Richmond infield drawn in, and was able to cut down the runner at the plate.

Being young doesn’t mean the New Richmond Millers can’t be competitive in the St. Croix Valley League.

The Millers put up a hearty battle when they hosted the Osceola Braves in the annual New Richmond Fun Fest clash between the two teams. Osceola got a fifth inning grand slam from former Miller Dave Measner, otherwise this was a close battle. Osceola ended up winning 6-1.

With the Wisconsin Baseball Association playoffs already out of reach for the Millers this season, the team is concentrating on building for the future. With two-thirds of the starting lineup in the early 20s or younger, the Millers are fielding one of the youngest lineups in the league. As the younger players are gaining experience, they’re learning to be more competitive with the veteran teams.

Both of the pitchers New Richmond used Friday are 2013 high school graduates, Coleman Roskam from Baldwin-Woodville and Zac Parfitt from New Richmond. Both are showing progress. Roskam worked the first six innings and only had one bad stretch, when Osceola got four runs in the fifth inning on Measner’s homer. Parfitt allowed one hit in the final three innings.

Millers manager Ryan Stephens said the young pitchers are learning to style their pitching to the dimensions of New Richmond’s Citizens Field. The pitchers were instructed to not give the Osceola hitters any inside pitches they could pull. Instead, they worked the outer half of the plate. The Braves hitters launched a number of flyballs deep to centerfield, where centerfielder Aaron Moore recorded nine putouts.

Osceola’s leading power hitter, Blake Berger, burned New Richmond pitchers for two homers when the teams played at Osceola’s Oakey Park earlier this season. In Friday’s game, Berger went 0-5, with five deep flies that were chased down in centerfield.

New Richmond had scoring chances early in the game that they couldn’t turn into runs. Moore led off the first with a single but was stranded at third base. Riley Kannel doubled in the second inning, but was also stranded on the bases.

The only New Richmond run was scored by the team’s newest player, John Craig, of Stillwater. Craig, who was making his debut with the Millers, doubled to the rightfield gap to lead off the seventh inning. He later scored on Kyle Miller’s single.

Miller, Kannel, Moore and Craig are some of the young players who have shown progress and are giving Millers fans hope for the future. Kannel moved to third base for Friday’s game and proved that he’s comfortable playing anywhere on the infield.

The season is winding down for the Millers, but it is a busy final stretch. The Millers play their final eight games within a 16-day stretch that begins this Wednesday. The Millers host Menomonie at Citizens Field on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Millers play all three days this weekend. They are at Blaine for a 7 p.m. game on Friday. They play at home against St. Paul on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Millers hit the road at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Hudson.

The Millers will play their final home game of the season next Wednesday, July 23, when they host Hager City at 7:30 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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