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St. Croix Central baseball tops Osceola for first win as member of MBC

St. Croix Central senior first baseman Doug Cottrell camps under an infield fly during the Panthers’ recent win over Glenwood City.

The St. Croix Central baseball team is right in the mix of a tumultuous Middle Border Conference baseball race.

The team’s first win as a member of the Middle Border Conference came in a critical game for the Panthers. The Panthers defeated Osceola, 6-4, last Tuesday. A loss would have dropped the Panthers two games out in the battle for the MBC lead.

The Panthers took on defending MBC champion Ellsworth on Thursday. This game would drop into the “instant classic” category. Ellsworth got the only run of the game on a sixth inning homer in beating Central, 1-0.

Thursday’s game featured an excellent pitching battle between Central’s Matt Brandeen and Ellsworth’s Spencer Schroeder. Brandeen allowed four hits and Schroeder threw a two-hitter. Both pitchers recorded eight strikeouts in the game.

The only run of the game was a sixth inning solo homer by Joe Tingelhoff, who is the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff.

Central coach Jason Koele looked at his team’s baserunning errors as the difference in the game. The Panthers had a runner picked off second base and another doubled off second base.

Central’s win Tuesday came against Osceola’s top pitcher, Ethan Freese. He was matched by Central senior Kyle Larson, who threw the complete game. Central took a 4-1 lead in the third inning but Osceola came back to tie the score in the fifth. The Panthers broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth when Doug Cottrell doubled home Cody Gostovich. The Panthers added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Evan Nielsen walked with the bases loaded.

Nielsen, Trent Smith and Owen Schwechler all had two hits in the win.

The Panthers got in two extra games on Saturday. When Ladysmith dropped out of the Baldwin-Woodville tournament at the last minute, the Panthers agreed to step in. The Panthers lost to Somerset and B-W, but Koele said the games were valuable because a number of younger players got to see extensive playing time. Four pitchers saw their first mound time of the season.

The Panthers close this week with two home games, hosting Prescott on Thursday and Elk Mound on Friday. The Panthers will play at New Richmond 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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