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Somerset baseball gets back into the MBC race

Somerset sophomore AJ Beasley pitched the complete game victory in the 4-3 decision against Osceola last Thursday.

When it’s two games into a season, you aren’t usually looking at mustwin games, but last Thursday’s game was in that category for the Somerset Spartans.

Somerset had an 0-2 start to the Middle Border Conference season and another loss could have put the Spartans’ hopes of a title run in jeopardy.

Behind sharp pitching from sophomore AJ Beasley and an efficient all-around effort, the Spartans made sure that didn’t happen. The Spartans moved to 1-2 in the MBC with a 4-3 win over Osceola.

More good news for the Spartans came Thursday when the final unbeaten teams in the conference were knocked off. So after three rounds of conference play, four teams stand at 2-1 and four at 1-2.

Thursday’s game didn’t have the best start for the Spartans, with Osceola scoring twice in the first inning. After that, the Chieftains couldn’t touch Beasley. He attacked the strike zone, needing just 75 pitches for the complete game win. He struck out nine with one walk, finishing with a seven- hitter.

“He threw all four of his pitches for strikes,” said Somerset coach Zac Eichten.

The Spartans struck back, getting a two-run single from Hunter Neubarth to tie the game. Neubarth is one of several young Spartans who have shown promise in their first extended varsity time. He made several nice plays at third base in this game.

“He’s taken ownership of that position,” Eichten said. “He gives us everything he’s got on every play.”

The Spartans took the lead in the middle innings, with Will Piletich driving home both runs. Piletich is the team’s leading hitter in the early action with a .389 average. As a team, Somerset was hitting .285 at the end of last week.

“It’s a good starting point, but I think we can get better,” Eichten said of the batting average.

All three of the Spartans’ MBC games have been one-run finals. Last Tuesday, the Spartans lost at home against Amery, 4-3. Brett Vetterkind pitched capably in the complete game loss. He allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out seven.

Somerset got behind early on the two earned runs. The Spartans trailed 4-1 before getting two runs, but they couldn’t get the tying run home.

With the tandem of Vetterkind and Beasley, the Spartans have two definitive pitchers at the top of their rotation. Eichten said he plans to continue to use those two as his pitchers for conference games. There are two conference games currently scheduled for each week, and the coaches are hoping there aren’t any rainouts that mess up their plans.

The second of this week’s conference games for the Spartans is this Thursday, when they host Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans have three nonconference games scheduled for the weekend. That starts with a game at Turtle Lake-Clayton on Friday. The Spartans will play in a tournament at Baldwin-Woodville on Saturday, where they will face St. Croix Falls and Rice Lake.

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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