Baseball: Red Wing finishes regular season with comeback victoryRed Wing scrapped its way to victory all year so it was a fitting end to the regular season as the Wingers scored four runs with two outs in the sixth inning to notch a 5-3 comeback victory against Ellsworth Tuesday at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing scrapped its way to victory all year so it was a fitting end to the regular season as the Wingers scored four runs with two outs in the sixth inning to notch a 5-3 comeback victory against Ellsworth Tuesday at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
The Panthers (15-5, 11-3 Middle Border) controlled the game for the first five innings but sixth-ranked Red Wing (18-1, 13-1 Missota) made Ellsworth throw a lot of pitches and got a big extra-base hit from senior Zach Garner to complete another late game win on Senior Night.
“These guys don’t break,” Red Wing head coach Jim Bohmbach said. “They don’t quit. They have some of the best baseball instincts and great heart.”
Garner came off the bench to deliver a two-RBI double that tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning and finished 1-for-2. Senior Jack Strusz went 2-for-3 with a run scored and his infield single started a wild series of events that gave the Wingers their only lead of the night.
Strusz hit with runners on first and second base and two outs, grounding a ball to shortstop and reaching first base as the throw from Jacob Betthauser scooted past the first basemen allowing Garner to score the go-ahead run. Then, as the first baseman retrieved the ball along the fence and put his head down, senior David Goggin raced home from third base and scored before Ellsworth could make a play. Strusz also advanced to second base on the play as Red Wing took a 5-3 lead.
“With two outs, you’re just looking for anything to happen,” Goggin said. “As soon as I rounded (third base), I was looking for them to do something.”
The Panthers made multiple miscues on the play and allowed the Wingers to steal momentum.
“We beat ourselves,” Ellsworth head coach Steve Block said. “But they put the ball in play and put the pressure on.”
Senior Joel Newman struggled on the mound early for the Wingers as the Panthers struck for three runs in the first inning. Senior Brandon Voelker walked to start the game, sophomore Dennis Schutz followed with an RBI triple, senior Brady Schroeder grounded out to second for an RBI, senior Jake Betthauser singled and junior James Georgakas doubled to put Ellsworth up 3-0.
Red Wing rallied for a run of its own as Newman helped himself in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single to make it 3-1 but Red Wing stranded two runners in scoring position.
After the early scoring, Newman and Schroeder settled in on the mound as both teams accounted for just six hits from the second through the fifth inning. Newman retired 11 of 13 hitters after the first inning and finished throwing five innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
Ellsworth maintained a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning as Red Wing also scuffled against Schroeder, who threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.
Schroeder looked strong to start the sixth inning with strikeouts of the first two batters but after back-to-back walks to Wingers’ junior Ryan Boldt and senior Mike Stegora, Garner lofted a fly ball between leftfield and centerfield that the Panthers’ left fielder dove past, allowing both runners to score.
“They don’t score if we make the catch,” Block said.
Goggin was hit with a pitch in the next at-bat before Strusz came to bat against Georgakas, who came on in relief.
Red Wing ninth-grader Ty Buck relieved Newman in the sixth inning and slammed the door shut on yet another win. He struck out four in two impressive innings to pick up the victory.
“He’s a huge weapon,” Bohmbach said of Buck. “For a ninth-grader, he’s got more confidence than any of our pitchers. He wants the ball.”
Tuesday’s regular season finale gives the Wingers their ninth consecutive win leading into section playoffs while the Panthers will attempt to stay positive about putting a scare into the sixth-ranked team in Class 3A. Ellsworth will host a second round playoff game Tuesday in Hager City.
“We had a really good ball club on the brink,” Block said.
Section 1AAA seeding will take place Wednesday morning and Goggin said an almost perfect senior season continues with another resilient victory.
“Everyone is contributing,” Goggin said. “We were kind of hoping to keep our momentum rolling.”