Baseball: New Prague's Feneis dominates Red Wing
It’s been a long six years for New Prague. With a four wins in five games coming into Monday’s affair against Red Wing, the Trojans sit over .500 for the first time since 2008.
And after Daniel Feneis’ complete-game 3-2 victory over the Wingers at the Red Wing Athletic Field, things could be turning around for New Prague.
Feneis, a Minnesota State University, Mankato commit, struck out 17 Wingers, taking down nearly six innings of out with a left arm that blazed fastballs on the black, and slipped a curve that left bats flailing well ahead of arrival.
“I was just getting ahead of hitters, throwing a lot of strikes, a lot of off-speed, switching it up,” Feneis said.
After striking out 12 times in the first 4 1/3 innings, Red Wing was able to get to Feneis in the fifth. Gunnar Tubbs singled with one out, which was followed by a Corey Hawe base on balls. Jakob Meyer laid down a sacrifice bunt, but beat the throw to load the bases for Tait Kelly at the top of the lineup.
Kelly hit a ground ball to the shortstop hole, scoring Tubbs and keeping the bases full of Wingers.
Dixon Irwin grounded into a fielder’s choice that saw Hawe tagged out at home. Ty Buck then hit an RBI single to third before Feneis ended the inning with a strikeout.
Red Wing starting pitcher Cody Leitner was touched up for a run in the second, but settled down to retire 10 straight Trojans. With one out in the fifth, Leitner gave up back-to-back singles, prompting Red Wing head coach Paul Hartmann to pull his lefty in favor of Buck. A passed ball put two runners in scoring position, which Ben Miller knocked in two batters later to give New Prague the final advantage.
“It’s too bad,” Hartmann said of Leitner being overshadowed by Feneis. “Cody’s pitched three excellent ballgames for us, and we’ve been unable to get him a win. He deserves one. He’s battling his tail off out there.”
Red Wing committed the only error of the game, something that has hampered the team early this season. But with the ability to get some practice time outdoors, and the increasing field conditions, the defense is making some strides.
“I was proud of the fact we played better defensively for (Leitner) than we did last week,” Hartmann continued. “We let a couple bases get away from us late in the ballgame, but we just have to have more consistent at-bats.”
Much of the trouble offensively could be attributed to Feneis’ and his approach, and a late adoption by the Wingers to try and stay ahead of the Trojan workhorse.
“He’s legit. He’s a legitimate high-school pitcher,” Hartmann said. “I think it was a combination of him spotting up and us not having aggressive, early swings. Against a good pitcher like that, we try to preach that you want to get aggressive early in the count because if you get down 0-1 or 0-2, your chance for success can diminish.”
Red Wing (1-3) will visit Chaska Wednesday, and then return home for a doubleheader against Farmington Friday.