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New Richmond places six All-MBC baseball selections

New Richmond junior Reece Lucas developed into one of the top pitchers in the Middle Border Conference in 2018.1 / 2
The return of Cole Gostovich for his senior season was key for the St. Croix Central baseball team this spring.2 / 2

Winning their third-straight Middle Border Conference championship led the New Richmond baseball team to draw its share of respect when the all-conference voting was completed last week.

The Tigers placed six players on the 2018 All-MBC team, including three players on the all-conference first team.

Making the first team for the Tigers were seniors Jake Jirik and Blake Kretovics and junior Reece Lucas. Senior Noah Towberman and junior Ryan Kling were voted onto the second team and junior Jack Bau was an honorable mention choice.

Kretovics is one of the rare players who received All-MBC recognition in all four years of his high school career. He was a second team selection as a freshman and he has been named to the first team each of the past three seasons. Kretovics had another monster season for the Tigers. He led the team in batting average (.390), homers (3), triples (4), doubles (7) and runs scored (28). He was nominated for conference Player of the Year, which was won by Prescott’s Peter Brookshaw.

“Blake’s work ethic is phenomenal,” said New Richmond coach Travis Helland.

Jirik was named the Tigers’ Defensive Player of the Year. He also was the spark plug to the offense, especially when he moved into the leadoff role. He led the team with 24 hits. His 24 runs scored ranked second on the team. He also was an important relief pitcher, with three saves and two pitching victories. He batted .435 in conference games.

Lucas and Kling developed into an outstanding 1-2 combination on the mound for the Tigers this season. Lucas finished the season with a 6-2 record and a team-leading 44 innings of work.

“He threw a lot of big innings for us. Reece keeps the ball down. He’s got a great sinker,” Helland said. “He’s a real competitor out there.”

Helland said he thought Kling and Towberman both deserved to be on the first team and the numbers bear out his argument. Kling finished the season with an 0.91 earned run average, one of the lowest in team history. He worked 38 innings this season, allowing five earned runs. He finished with a 5-1 record. When he wasn’t pitching, Kling locked down the third base position. He also ranked fourth on the team with 15 runs batted in.

Towberman had a huge season, combining with Kretovics to give the Tigers a lethal tandem in the 3-4 spots in the batting order. Towberman led the team with 26 RBI, ranking second with a .368 batting average. He led the team with 16 walks, giving him a .532 on-base percentage. Towberman was also an outstanding catcher, both throwing out runners and working to bring the best out in the Tiger pitchers.

“Noah came up with big hit after big hit all season,” Helland said.

Bau had another strong season, ranking third on the team in RBI, runs scored and on-base percentage.

St. Croix Central

The Panthers had four players receive All-MBC recognition. Junior Derek Myer was a first team selection. Senior Cole Gostovich, junior Keagen Berg and sophomore Wyatt Sundby were all honorable mention players.

Myer had a true break-out season this spring. He led the MBC with a .604 batting average in conference games. He had 28 hits, with 13 going for extra bases.

“He has full aspirations of playing college baseball,” said Central coach Tom Sauve. “He was torching the ball to all parts of the field.”

Gostovich’s return was huge for the Panthers after he missed his junior season due to injury. Gostovich had a good offensive season, but his biggest impact may have been as a pitcher. He stepped in to solidify an unsettled pitching staff.

Berg and Sundby were two of the sparks that helped the Panthers see a significant upturn in their offensive success this season. As players in the top of the batting order, they got on base often, setting the table for Myer. They also played key defensive roles. Berg has been the team’s catcher the past two seasons. Sundby locked onto the right-field position.

“He’s turned himself into a pretty darn good outfielder,” Sauve said.

Somerset

The Spartans had two players receive All-MBC honors. Senior Brett Vetterkind was named to the All-MBC first team and junior Will Piletich was an honorable mention choice.

Vetterkind has been the backbone of the Spartans’ success the past few seasons. He was the team’s top pitcher this season and he became a highly reliable shortstop. He also hit the ball with authority.

Piletich provided the Spartans with a wide-ranging outfielder in centerfield. He also moved into the heart of the batting order, delivering a number of key hits.

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.

(715) 426-1051
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