Amateur Baseball: Aces stomp Wisconsin state champs
Mike Stegora showed up to the game Tuesday unsure which team the Red Wing Aces were facing at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
The scorecard wasn't any help as manager-in-residence Steve Boldt had written, "Who cares who we play."
The Aces were playing Wisconsin Baseball Association state champions, the Menomonie Eagles, but the words held true as the Eagles committed six errors and Stegora did not make an out in an 8-0 Red Wing win.
"We put the ball in play quite a bit," Boldt said. "We made them work. Everyone played hard and that's what we need."
The Aces' co-managers Jimmy Bohmbach and Andy Gibart missed Tuesday's game, along with several other players. Despite the depleted lineup, Red Wing looked comfortable as ever.
"It kind of had a high school feel to it," Stegora said. "These are the games I kind of love. Nothing is structured. Just like backyard baseball."
Stegora flashed plenty of skill, going 4-for-4 with two triples, two runs scored, a stolen base and an RBI.
"I just wasn't thinking up there," he said. "I was just playing. The ball was pretty big today; you got to love those days."
Menomonie's six errors allowed the Aces to get a blowout victory with just two RBI. Zach Garner picked up the other RBI for Red Wing on a single in the seventh inning.
But it wasn't all about the Eagles' defensive struggles as Ty Buck completely shut down Menomonie's offense. He pitched eight innings, allowing three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts. He forced 12 groundouts and threw 94 pitches in the victory.
"He was just throwing strikes," Boldt said. "His ball definitely moves. I was talking with the ump and he was impressed. They couldn't put the barrel on the ball too often."
The game's first run came on a single by Stegora to knock in Alex Quiding with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. The Aces continued to put runners in scoring position every inning but failed to score again until the sixth inning when Stegora crossed home on an error by the Eagles' third baseman. Red Wing left 10 runners on base in the first five innings.
Then in the seventh inning, Menomonie unraveled, committing four errors after getting the first two outs. The Aces took advantage with six unearned runs to go up 8-0 and sent 11 batters to the plate. John Ewald was the hard-luck pitcher in the sixth and seventh innings, giving up seven unearned runs.
"They're a good team," Boldt said. "It was one bad inning that did them in. You got to bury teams when you can and we did."
Justin Cunningham pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out the victory.
Quiding finished 2-for-5 with a run scored, Kyle Blahnik was 2-for-4 and Garner was 2-for-4 in the win. Blahnik also was perfect in the field, making all eight plays hit his way at shortstop.
Tanner Dahl went 1-for-2 with a walk to lead the Eagles. Tyler Hamann started for Menomonie and pitched five innings, giving up one run on seven hits and four walks while striking out three.
Next up, Red Wing will host the Burnsville Bulldogs, an over-35-year old team for Musty Barnhart Insurance Night at the Ath. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.