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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For 11 innings, Friday's WIAA sectional semifinal between New Richmond and Ellsworth was just what you'd expect from two teams that have become intense rivals. Each team kept taking its best shot. Each team built leads, only to see the other come back. Each team had outstanding plays and decisions they'd like back. Both teams scored in the seventh inning to force the game into extra innings.
One of the goals set by the New Richmond baseball team is to reach the 20-win milestone. The Tigers were able to reach that win total last week. The Tigers ended their regular season with wins over Frederic and the Amery Legion team. The Tigers now have a 20-5 record and finish second in the Middle Border Conference with a 12-2 record. This week the Tigers started WIAA tournament play. On Tuesday they were scheduled to host Unity in a regional final game.
The hopes of a Middle Border Conference championship were buried during the first four innings of last Thursday's showdown with Ellsworth. The Tigers dug themselves a 7-1 hole in those early innings. They made a hearty comeback, but fell short in an 8-7 loss to Ellsworth. This locks up the MBC title for Ellsworth. It is the first non-wrestling boys sports title won by an Ellsworth team in the MBC since 1999. Neither team played well in the field in this game. The Tigers committed seven errors, six of them coming in the first four innings.
The hopes of a state playoff berth remain alive for the New Richmond Millers. The Millers kept those hopes alive with a sterling performance Saturday night, beating Hudson 3-1. It took outstanding pitching from Tim Brown and Luke Meier for the Millers to win Saturday. Brown and Meier combined to throw a two-hitter in the win. The Millers were facing Hudson's top hurler, Paul Johnson, who pitches at St. Olaf College. The Millers couldn't do anything against Johnson for the first seven innings of the game.
Many of the New Richmond varsity baseball players had never seen coach John Ball get mad. So when Ball got upset and started yelling at his players in the dugout between innings during this weekend's tournament in Cumberland, the message got across. The Tigers throttled up their play, winning all three of their games to take the tournament championship. While there are coaches in the area who yell and scream on a nightly basis, Ball's style is more of a calm method of teaching.
Freshman Nick Widing twirled a three-hitter to lead Somerset's baseball team to a 3-2 win over Frederic last Tuesday. Widing pitched the complete game for the Spartans. At times he clearly overpowered Frederic's hitters.
It was do-or-die for the New Richmond and Somerset baseball teams last Thursday. Both teams knew the losing team would see their chances of a Middle Border Conference championship all but disappear. It was New Richmond that kept its hopes of an MBC championship alive, with an 8-1 win over Somerset. With the win, New Richmond remains one game behind undefeated Ellsworth in the conference standings.
Somerset High School standout hockey player Brock Montpetit has verbally committed to play for the University of Wisconsin men's program. Montpetit accepted the commitment offer from the Badgers last Tuesday. Montpetit has played the past two years at Somerset High School, leading the state in scoring as a sophomore. Tuesday was the first time the Badgers had made the offer to Montpetit and he jumped at the chance to play with the team he's been following for most of his life. This fall, Montpetit will be attending school in Faribault, Minn. at Shattuck-St. Mary's School.
After spotting Glenwood City an 8-1 lead, the Somerset baseball team rallied to win Monday's Middle Border Conference baseball game, 11-9. Junior Austin Seibel made the comeback possible. Seibel came on to pitch in the fifth inning and he retired all nine batters he faced. Somerset's play matched the weather in this game. The first innings were played in a rain that ranged from a mist to a downpour. The clearing of the skies seemed to come simultaneously with the turnaround in Somerset's play in the game. Calin Hehling started on the mound for the Spartans.
The New Richmond baseball team is staying right on the heals of Ellsworth in the Middle Border Conference pennant race. New Richmond posted three more conference wins in the past week, over Webster, Glenwood City and Unity. The Tigers have only one conference loss, which came against Ellsworth. No team has been able to stop Ellsworth yet in conference action. New Richmond plays a key game in MBC play this Thursday, when they host Somerset in a 7 p.m. start.