Baseball: Red Wing eliminated in heartbreaking defeat
ROCHESTER - A year removed from its first state appearance since 1977, the Red Wing baseball was well on the way to a Section 1AAA first-round upset against Rochester Mayo.
The 11th-seeded Wingers were taking it to the fifth-seeded Spartans at Mayo Field with two home runs and a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning.
Then, the game unraveled for Red Wing, twice.
Mayo was down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh when David Brust, who was 0-for-3 with a strikeout prior to the at-bat, ripped a triple over Preston Blaney's head in center field to score two and put the tying run on third base. Zach Robertson followed with a single to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Red Wing's Zach Lang led off with a double and came around to score on a base hit by Trey Eckstrom. Up 4-3, the Wingers again were three outs away from the win.
But in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Martin led off with a double for the Spartans, scored on a double by Christian Rosenow to tie the game and Rosenow came home for the winning run with two outs as Sam Hinsch's double hit the tip of Blaney's outstretched glove and into the fence for a walk-off 5-4 victory.
"I was very happy with our effort," Red Wing co-head coach Paul Hartmann said. "I thought we showed up ready to play and I thought we competed well. Sometimes in this game you can do a lot of things right and not come out on the right end."
Mayo (9-10) held a slight edge with nine hits to the Wingers' eight, but the Spartans only had two hits before the seventh inning.
Ty Buck pitched 6 2/3 innings for Red Wing (6-11) and allowed three runs on five hits and six walks while striking out 10.
"He competed his heart out," Hartmann said. "He gave us everything we wanted and more. He threw a lot of pitches early but seemed to get into a groove in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. We wanted to keep him out there."
Thate Peterson went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI while Michael Bigelbach finished 1-for-4 with a home run in the loss. No player had more than one hit for the Wingers.
Red Wing's Andy Kalb picked up the first hit of the game in the third inning, and Peterson followed with a home run over the right-field fence for a 2-0 lead. The wind was gusting out to right field and it helped Peterson's fly ball over the fence.
"It was just a fastball outside," Peterson said. "It felt good but I thought that maybe it was a pop-up to the outfielder."
Mayo loaded the bases in the third and fourth innings but had nothing to show for it as Buck worked out of jams with an effective fastball-changeup combination on Thursday.
"Especially his changeup," said Peterson, the Wingers' catcher, "he was hitting spots really well. He didn't miss many."
In the sixth inning, Bigelbach gave the Wingers an insurance run when he crushed an inside pitch and hooked it around the right-field foul pole to put Red Wing up 3-0.
The Wingers were in complete control and confident going into the seventh inning. A leadoff single by the Spartans' Michael Michalak was followed by a fly out to center field. Then, Hinsch singled but Bailey Kazech struck out to bring Red Wing one out away from victory with a "no-doubles" defense set to cut down Mayo's chances of tying the game.
The tactic proved unsuccessful as the Spartans came through with clutch hitting in the final two innings.
"They were fastballs outside," Peterson said. "It was just a good piece of hitting. They're a good team, especially the top of their order."
Eckstrom picked up the loss in relief while Tommy Hanson was the winning pitcher in an inning out of the bullpen for the Spartans.
It was the final game for the Wingers' 11 seniors, an unfortunate ending in otherwise successful years at Red Wing.
"I'm really happy with the kids," Hartmann said. "You want to be playing your best ball at the end of May. Our kids have nothing to hang their heads about."