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New Richmond baseball takes eight-game MBC win streak into Thursday double-header

New Richmond second baseman Chad Miller (4) turns a double play in the Tigers' win over Baldwin-Woodville last week.

It has been more than a month since the New Richmond baseball team has lost a Middle Border Conference game.

That hot streak, including eight MBC wins in a row, has lifted the Tigers into a tie for the MBC lead with Ellsworth. Both teams began this week with 9-2 MBC records.

The last time the Tigers were beaten in an MBC game was on April 13 against Baldwin-Woodville. The Tigers avenged that loss Tuesday, May 9, knocking B-W’s top pitcher out of the game in the second inning in a 7-2 Tiger victory. That was followed by conference victories over Prescott and Amery. The only blemish to the week was a 9-0 nonconference loss against River Falls.

The Tigers used small ball to throw off Baldwin-Woodville’s timing at the start of Tuesday’s game. Tiger leadoff hitters Eric Hedlund and Grant Riemenschneider both bunted and reached base safely. The tactic worked even better when Blake Kretovics mashed a triple that scored them both to give the Tigers an instant 2-0 lead. A single by Jake Weiss and a double by Noah Towberman would up the Tiger lead to 4-0 before the first inning was complete.

In the second inning the Tigers used two more bunts to chase across another run.

“We haven’t bunted a lot, but we’re not afraid to do it at any time,” said New Richmond coach Travis Helland. “We wanted to make them defend the bunt.”

The bunting gave the Tigers baserunners and the Tigers have been highly effective this season when they’ve got runners on base.

Kretovics led the Tiger offense with a pair of triples in the win. Weiss also had two hits.

Jack Bau pitched five shutout innings to earn the win.

Thursday’s loss raised the one question that has circled the Tigers this season: Why have they looked so good against MBC opponents, but it’s been the opposite against Division 1 non-conference opponents?

The Tigers were limited to one hit, a single by Mikah Kier, in the loss.

Then the Tigers went to Prescott and looked sharp in a 9-4 win against the Cardinals.

“And Prescott is just as good as River Falls,” Helland said.

This was a battle for a spot at the top of the standings and Riemenschneider met the challenge as the Tigers’ top pitcher. Prescott struck for four runs in the first inning. Riemenschneider remained composed and didn’t give up another run.

“That tells you a lot about his competitiveness,” Helland said.

Riemenschneider reached his pitch count in the sixth inning. Hedlund came on in his closer role to get the final four outs.

The Tigers twice in the first inning, centered around a double from Bau. The Tigers took the lead with a five-run rally in the third inning. Kier delivered a two-run single to tie the score at 4-4. Jirik followed with a single to score Towberman with the go-ahead run. Hedlund capped the rally with another two-run single.

The fireworks of the week were provided by the Tigers at the end of Baseball Day in New Richmond on Saturday, May 13. The Tigers continued their trend of playing well at Citizens Field, throttling Amery 15-0.

Bau continued his emergence as a pitcher Saturday, throwing a five-inning no-hitter. He struck out eight but walked five.

“He kept the ball down and mixed in his curveball very well,” Helland said.

A little run support, okay, a lot of run support, made his job easier. The Tigers scored six runs in the first inning, five in the second and four in the third. The Tigers scored 11 runs off Amery’s top pitcher.

The Tigers riddled Citizens Field with line drive hits. Bau led the attack with three hits, with Hedlund, Towberman and Chad Miller each supplying two hits. Miller drove home three runs.

Citizens Field will be the site of two Tiger games Thursday, May 18. They will host St. Croix Central for a pair of MBC games, starting at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Tigers will host Menomonie at the NRHS field on Friday, May 19. New Richmond completes its MBC schedule next Monday with a game at Somerset.

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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