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St. Croix Central Legion baseball team debuts, splits with Ellsworth

The debut of the St. Croix Central American Legion baseball program can certainly be deemed a success.

Central played at Ellsworth last Thursday in the first games played by the new Central Legion team. Central was able to split the games against the top-quality Ellsworth program. Ellsworth won the first game 17-4, but Central bounced back to take the second game 4-3.

St. Croix Central varsity baseball coach Jason Koele is also coaching the Legion team. The Panthers are carrying 15 players on their roster, including three from Hudson.

Tanner Homme of Hudson started on the mound in the opening game for Central. Ellsworth broke the game wide open with an 11-run third inning. The games were run with free substitution and every player who suited up getting to bat.

“It’s definitely being done on the fly,” Koele said. “You throw it together and try to have some fun.”

The Central team had one practice together before playing Thursday’s games.

The second game was a much truer indication of Central’s talent. Michael Sauer, who just completed his freshman season, pitched the seven innings to get the win. He struck out nine batters and gave up two earned runs.

“His curveball was nasty,” Koele said.

Central scored once in the second inning. Doug Cottrell led off with a walk and scored on a sacrifice fly from Derek DeGross.

A two-out rally in the sixth inning won the game for Central. Hunter Hurlburt and Shiloh Goodwin started the rally with walks and they both scored on a double from Homme. Homme later scored on an error.

The Panthers would need all those runs because Ellsworth scored twice in the seventh inning. Ellsworth got the tying run to third base with two outs in the seventh inning. Sauer then struck out the next batter to get the final out of the game.

“It was a fun first series,” Koele said.

Central was scheduled to play at Prescott on Saturday, but those games were rained out. A makeup date has not yet been decided upon. Central’s next games will be played next Wednesday when the Panthers travel to Bloomer.

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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