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Win a nostalgic moment for Somerset Coach John Ball

Somerset coach John Ball is shown describing the ground rules before last Tuesday’s game at New Richmond’s Citizens Field. Ball knows the field well, having coached games there for 31 years as the New Richmond varsity baseball coach.

There was a nostalgic sense surrounding Somerset’s 6-2 win over Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday.

Because the baseball field at Larry Forrest Park in Somerset was rain soaked and deemed unplayable, the game was moved to Citizens Field in New Richmond. This was the home field for Somerset coach John Ball throughout the 31 years that he coached the New Richmond varsity baseball team, winning more than 500 games in that tenure.

The Spartans gave their coach something to feel nostalgic about too. They played a sharp, mistake-free game to defeat the Blackhawks 6-2.

This was Ball’s first time back at Citizens Field as a head coach since leaving New Richmond’s program in 2009. He was an assistant coach at the St. Croix Valley League All-Star Game played there last summer.

“It was fun, it brought back some old memories,” Ball said. He joked that his players don’t know his coaching history. “A couple of the seniors know I was there. They respect me as an old guy, but they don’t know the history.”

The Spartans played like one of Ball’s old teams, which reached the WIAA state tournament nine times between 1983 and 2007. The Spartans scored three runs in the first inning. They loaded the bases on hits from Aaron Moore and Logan Peterson and a walk to Andy Peters. Reed Baillargeon singled home the first run and Tyler Lueck ripped a double to bring home the next two runs.

“It was nice to get three in the first. It seems like we’ve been playing from behind all year,” Ball said.

Lueck was on the mound and that was all the run support he would need. He allowed four hits and four runs over six innings. The Blackhawks scored their two runs in the fourth inning.

The Spartans answered back immediately, to increase the margin back to four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Peters singled home Moore and Zac Waalen, who started the fourth inning with walks.

Peterson was the offensive revelation in this game for the Spartans. The sophomore third baseman singled in all four of his at-bats, including driving home the Spartans’ fourth run in the second inning.

One swing of the bat was the difference when the Spartans were able to return to their home field last Thursday to face Prescott. Prescott’s Matt Holman lined a grand slam homer in the first inning and that proved to be the winning margin as the Cards controlled the Spartans, 7-3.

Waalen started on the mound for the Spartans. Ball said two key Prescott hits ruined Waalen’s day.

“I thought Zac threw really well, one of his best outings,” Ball said.

The Spartans clawed their way back into the game. The got one run back in the second inning when Lueck scored on Brody Penman’s sacrifice fly. They scored two more runs when Peterson and Peters had back-to-back RBI singles in the fifth inning.

There was another chance for the Spartans to gain ground in the sixth inning. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs, only to have a runner picked off first base.

Peters finished with three hits in the game. Somerset had nine hits in the game, while Prescott finished with 10 hits. The loss leaves the Spartans with a 5-5 record in the MBC. They ended the week tied with Osceola and New Richmond tied for third place.

The next two conference games for the Spartans will be played at home. This Thursday the Spartans will host Durand. That’s followed by a date next Tuesday with Ellsworth, the MBC leader and top-ranked Division 2 team in the state.

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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