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New Richmond baseball team frustrated by near misses

New Richmond catcher Caleb Manecke awaits a throw as Somerset was able to score a run on a successful suicide squeeze bunt in Friday’s game.1 / 2
New Richmond pitcher Noah Berger tosses the ball to first base after fielding a bunt down the first base line in Friday's loss at Somerset. 2 / 2

The “what ifs” and “near misses” continue to wear on the unpredictable New Richmond baseball team.

The Tigers played three games within a 24-hour span on Friday and Saturday and weren’t able to come away with wins in any of the three.

The final Middle Border Conference game of the season was played at Somerset on Friday, with the Tigers suffering a 3-1 setback. The loss leaves the Tigers in fourth place in the final MBC standings with a 7-7 record.

On Saturday morning, the Tigers played their final home games of the season, hosting Marshfield in a double-header. Again, the Tigers were competitive in both games, but lost both, by scores of 8-1 and 5-4.

The wins and losses have come in clusters for the Tigers all season. The losses over the weekend drop their season record to 8-16.

What seems to frustrate Tiger coach Chad Fehrman the most is that the team puts itself in a position to score the runs needed to win games, but can’t get the runs home. In Friday’s loss at Somerset, the Tigers stranded runners in scoring position four times. The only Tiger run of the game was scored in third inning when Caleb Manecke doubled down the third base line to score Keilan Mehls, who’d led off the inning with a walk.

Inconsistent pitching has been an issue for the Tigers all season. Fehrman has been looking for someone to step forward to take on the number one starter role on the staff. For several games, it appeared junior Noah Berger would be that pitcher. But that wasn’t the case on Friday. Berger struggled to find the strike zone. When he was pulled with one out in the second inning, he had already thrown more than 60 pitches.

Sophomore Cam Hausman replaced Berger and kept the Tigers in the game, giving up two runs in 4.2 innings of work.

There were few highlights in the 8-1 loss in the opening game against Marshfield. Senior Hayden Nelson pitched the entire game, giving up five earned runs. Sophomore Grant Momchilovich was the offensive standout, producing three of the team’s five hits.

The lone Tiger run was scored in the sixth inning when Drake Durham doubled home Mehls.

In the second game, there were encouraging signs from the offense and the pitching. The Tigers took a 4-0 lead. Cole Peterson led off the first with a double and scored on Jeremy Leavens’ groundout. Momchilovich and Nelson led off the second inning with walks. They would score on a groundout and a Marshfield error.

Durham and Momchilovich led off the third inning with singles. They moved up on Nelson’s sacrifice bunt and Durham scored when Josh Geigle reached on an error.

The Tigers had chances to add to the lead. They stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings without adding another run.

The Tigers wanted to get Berger and Durham ready to pitch for this Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 tournament game at Eau Claire Memorial, so Durham worked the opening two innings of the second game. The sophomore lefthander again showed fine potential, working two scoreless innings with three shutouts.

A couple pitchers were brought up from the junior varsity to work the rest of the game. Freshman Grant Riemenschneider worked the next 4.2 innings and showed that he’s ready to battle for a place in the varsity rotation next season.

“I was pretty impressed. Early on, he was pretty effective,” Fehrman said.

Peterson and Josh Kizer led the Tigers with two hits apiece in the second game. The team finished with nine hits.

The Tigers are now in the midst of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs. They played at Eau Claire Memorial on Tuesday. The winner of Tuesday’s game will play at Eau Claire’s Carson Park again this Thursday, facing second seed Eau Claire North. That game will be played at 2 p.m.

The winner of Thursday’s game will qualify for the sectional tournament. This year’s sectionals will be played at Chippewa Falls next Tuesday.

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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