Baseball: Up and down doubleheader for Red Wing
Red Wing is a work-in-progress.
The Wingers lost an entire team's worth of seniors from last year's Class 3A state team and the terrible spring weather further stunted the cohesiveness of this year's team. Not to mention critical injuries to two of their top players.
That adversity is showing in the ebb and flow of energy and intensity from Red Wing's bench. And on Tuesday, the Wingers' doubleheader with Chanhassen featured a disinterested first game, a 6-4 loss, and a spirited 9-2 victory in Game 2 at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
"We think it starts in the dugout," Red Wing co-head coach Paul Hartmann said. "That's the thing we've been trying to stress. ... It was the tempo in the dugout that led to the tempo at the plate. This is a process. We're starting to figure some things out."
In Game 1, the Wingers led 4-3 after the fourth inning but were shut down by the Storm's Daniel Fuhrman, a St. Cloud State recruit, in the final three innings. Fuhrman threw a complete game for the Storm, allowing two earned runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batter while striking out six.
"Their first guy (Fuhrman) threw some pretty good pitches," Hartmann said. "I think he started the game pretty tight but he loosened up. He was down in the zone. We've got some guys who are lunging right now ... but you've got to give him credit, he was good."
Red Wing continues to play without star center fielder Ryan Boldt, who sat out another game with a right knee injury, and the offense is struggling to find an identity without its No. 3 hitter. Ty Buck, who was stuck in the face by a pitch last week and needed stitches, returned to play shortstop for the Wingers.
"It's an unspoken absence," Hartmann said of Boldt. "His presence is missed a ton. But some other guys are getting opportunities."
Michael Bigelbach went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple to lead Red Wing (3-3, 3-3 Missota).
Gunnar McCarthy led Chanhassen with a 4-for-4 performance in Game 1, tallying two RBI and two runs scored.
McCarthy scored the first run of the game on a passed ball in the first inning. The Storm added two more runs in the second inning, one in the fifth inning, one in the sixth inning and a final tally in the seventh inning.
The Wingers tied the game at 3-3 with an unearned run in the third inning and went ahead 4-3 in the fourth inning on another unearned run. Red Wing did not get a runner past second base after the fourth.
Needing a victory in Game 2, the Wingers turned to Bigelbach and he delivered. After a shaky first inning gave Chanhassen a 2-0 lead, Bigelbach settled down and was efficient, throwing less than 80 pitches for a complete-game victory, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out six in the win, including five in the final two innings.
"I got into a groove right after the first inning," Bigelbach said. "I could control all my pitches well. I was mixing everything and keeping them off-balance."
"The tempo was set by (Bigelbach) and Thate Peterson behind the plate and we were able to get some key hits," Hartmann added.
The majority of those key hits came in the sixth inning as Red Wing busted open a 2-2 tie with seven runs in the frame. Preston Blaney led off the inning with a double down the third-base line, and Zorn knocked him in on a single for a 3-2 lead. After a pop-up, Michael Friedrich came through with a ringing double into the right-center gap. In the ensuing at-bat, Trey Eckstrom walked and then Thate Peterson roped an RBI single to pad the lead. Bigelbach was hit by a pitch, Buck singled and Blaney got his second hit of the inning to round out the scoring for the Wingers.
"It was pretty important," Hartmann said of winning Game 2. "We needed to erase the taste of that first game. It's a good feeling leaving the park on a win."
Blaney and Buck each went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead Red Wing.
Cole Kirchoff finished 3-for-3 with a run scored and Zach Elder was 2-for-3 with a stolen base to pick up the only hits for Chanhassen in the second game.
The Wingers will go on the road Thursday to face Shakopee in a doubleheader. The first game starts at 4:30 p.m.