Baseball: John Marshall ends Wingers' season
ROCHESTER — It’s been a down couple of seasons for Red Wing, a team that qualified for the state tournament in 2012. The section-championship dream for the current team, which featured just four seniors, died Monday at John Adams Middle School after a 4-3 loss to Rochester John Marshall a few hours after keeping the year alive with a 3-2 victory over Winona.
The Wingers took a 1-0 lead against the Rockets in the first when Thate Peterson, who finished 3-for-3 with and RBI in the second game, singled home Jakob Meyer. Ryan Jonas then drove in Peterson in the top of the fourth to give Red Wing a two-run lead. John Marshall responded with a two-run fourth inning, tying the game 2-2, before adding a single run in the fifth.
The Wingers’ bats went quiet in the fifth and sixth, but Ty Buck scored on an error in the top of the seventh, breathing new life into the Red Wing dugout.
That would be the Wingers’ last gasp, as Kaeleb Stangler tripled off the top of the left-center field wall, crossing the plate and ending the game a few pitches later when Sam Broman singled up the middle. Sam Palmatier took the loss after giving up the triple to Stangler. Broman’s hit came off Ty Buck, who came in with no outs and Stangler in scoring position.
The loss came on the heels of a game where Red Wing held off a late Winhawks challenge, with Buck closing out the game with a two-out strikeout and preserving Cody Leitner’s 6 2/3-inning victory.
“It was a very clean high-school baseball game,” Red Wing head coach Paul Hartmann said of his team’s win over Winona. “We made a number of great plays defensively. Ty looked as good as he’s looked at short(stop) all season long. Cody was Cody. It was a warm, muggy morning, and Cody battled for us. He probably didn’t have his best stuff, but as he has all year, he attacked the strike zone with three pitches and different locations at different times. And we got the timely hit early on; Cam’s double was huge for us.”
That would be Cam Voigt’s blast to left-center field, a shot that cleared a bases-loaded situation and gave Leitner a trio of runs to work with.
Leitner would allow two runs, including one in the first after Winona attacked the ball with four straight hits to start the game. But Leitner settled in, allowing just three hits from the second through the sixth before giving up three two-out singles in the seventh.
Buck, Peterson and Ryan Jonas scored for the Wingers in the first game, with Dixon Irwin, Buck and Voigt providing hits. Buck and Jonas each had a hit in the second game, while Voigt ended up 2-for-3. Peterson had the hot bat against JM, finishing 3-for-3.
Leitner, Peterson, Voigt and Gunnar Tubbs are the four Wingers that played in their final game with Red Wing. Hartmann will have a lot coming back in 2015, but losing four starters will leave a hole, as witnessed by the tears and hugs from nearly everyone in a purple jersey.
“It was a big day for our seniors, and it was a hard day to walk away from our seniors,” Hartmann said. “I think some of our seniors are playing some of the best baseball they’ve played. They’re guys that bought into roles that maybe they weren’t used to having, whether it be a DH role, a guy playing outfield, Cody, he comes in and plays outfield, we hit for him in Game 2, and he makes the play of the game defensively running a ball down in the gap.
“I can’t thank the seniors enough for buying into the team,” Hartmann added. “This team turned things around, and the emotion you saw at the end of game says a lot about these guys and what they mean to each other and what they mean to us as a staff.”
Red Wing finishes the season at 7-15, with five of those wins coming in the final nine games. For Hartmann, the turnaround over the final two weeks should be a textbook lesson for those coming back next year.
“I hope our young guys learned from this,” Hartmann said. “I think they learned a lot about varsity baseball this season. It’s one thing to compete on the VFW team, but it’s a completely different level up here. We’re learning more and more about this team, and I think they’ve learned that they can compete at this level. Now the challenge for those guys coming back is how much better are they going to get between now and March. You become a team in the season, but you become a better player in the offseason. Are they going to get in the weight room, are they going to play other sports and become better athletes? Those types of things. I think we took a step this year, and it’s now it’s a chance to take another step next year.”