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Two plays separate Ellsworth from Somerset baseball team

Somerset second baseman Tommy Grygienc attempts to turn a double play during a recent Spartan game.

Two plays separated the Somerset baseball team from the state-ranked Ellsworth Panthers last Tuesday.

Those two plays were enough to keep Ellsworth undefeated, while Somerset suffered its first loss of the season, 4-2. Because of wet grounds in Somerset, the game was played at the second home of Ellsworth’s baseball team in Hager City.

One of the plays was a two-run homer hit by Ellsworth’s Nick Taranto in the fourth inning. Taranto, a junior, is quickly getting recognition as one of the top players in the Middle Border Conference this season. Taranto pulled the ball over the leftfield fence, barely clearing the 314-foot fence to break a 2-2 tie.

Ellsworth’s first two runs were scored in the third inning. Those runs scored after Somerset had a chance to get the third out of the inning but failed to properly execute a pickoff play.

Ellsworth is ranked second in the state in Division 2. Somerset coach John Ball said this game should prove to the Spartans that they can compete evenly with Ellsworth when the two teams meet again on May 12.

The Spartans were limited to two hits by a trio of Ellsworth pitchers. Those two hits produced the Spartans’ first run. Andy Peters led off the second inning with a double. Tyler Lueck was credited with a single on a roller down the third base line. The throw by the Ellsworth third baseman hit Lueck in the back, allowing Peters to score from second base.

After Ellsworth took a 2-1 lead in the third, the Spartans used some good judgment at the plate to produce a run in the fourth inning. Lueck, Jon Sullivan and Ben Hammer walked to load the bases. Lueck was able to score when Brody Penman hit into a fielder’s choice.

Lueck was Somerset’s starting pitcher in the game, working into the fifth inning. He allowed six hits while striking out nine.

Peters pitched in relief, as he’s done in all five of the Spartans’ games thus far. His best game was in last Tuesday’s 10-1 win at Osceola. Peters worked 2.2 innings of shutout relief in that game. Seven of the eight outs he recorded were on strikeouts.

Peters came to the relief of senior Zac Waalen in Tuesday’s game. Waalen was sick, but he wouldn’t let the Spartan coaches talk him out of starting. Waalen pitched 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and one run.

“Zac’s not overpowering, but he’s such a competitor,” Ball said.

The Spartans had their best offensive game of the young season at Osceola, knocking out 12 hits. That was led by sophomore Logan Peterson. He produced three hits, including a pair of doubles. Peterson, Peters and Lueck each scored three times as the team’s three, four and five batters reached base a combined 12 times in the game.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans. If Ellsworth is considered the favorite to win the MBC title, Prescott isn’t far behind the Panthers. The Spartans are scheduled to play at Prescott on Thursday. The Spartans will play at home next Tuesday against New Richmond.

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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