Baseball: Opportunistic Red Wing feasts on John Marshall errors to reach section title gameRed Wing opponents ought to take note by now – do not make a mistake against the Wingers because they will take advantage.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing opponents ought to take note by now – do not make a mistake against the Wingers because they will take advantage.
Red Wing’s dominant decimation of Section 1AAA opponents continued Saturday with a 10-0, five-inning victory over Rochester John Marshall at the Athletic Field in Red Wing.
The top-seeded Wingers (21-1) used four Rockets errors in the fourth inning to score nine runs and romp their way to the section final Tuesday in Red Wing. The fifth-ranked Wingers will again meet John Marshall to decide the title after the Rockets defeated Owatonna 2-1 in the consolation bracket.
“We're just licking our chomps at the first mistake that they make,” Wingers senior left fielder Mike Stegora said.
Red Wing feasted on Rockets errors and started the scoring onslaught when junior center fielder Ryan Boldt beat out an infield single in the fourth. Boldt, who had three stolen bases in the game, stole second base and third base. The throw to third sailed into left field and allowed Boldt to give the Wingers a 1-0 lead.
That was just the beginning.
John Marshall went on to make three more errors, including two dropped fly balls, and the Red Wing bats started to come alive. Freshman third baseman Ty Buck and senior shortstop Joel Newman got on after Boldt scored and senior first baseman Jack Strusz hit a ball to first base that the Rockets first baseman decided to throw home on to cut down Buck. The throw sailed to the back stop and allowed Buck and Newman to score.
John Marshall’s sloppy play put the Wingers in position to secure their first state tournament appearance since 1977.
“It hit me right when we got to the outfield,” Red Wing senior pitcher Zach Garner said. “We're one game away. This is what we've been going for the whole season. It's here, just gotta win it.”
Garner threw a two-hit gem and struck out seven hitters in five innings of work. Garner faced one over the minimum through four innings and surrendered a harmless single in the top of the fifth.
“If you can make something happen when they give you an extra out like that you have a good chance of winning,” Wingers head coach Jim Bohmbach said. “We seem to thrive on that.”
Red Wing has allowed just one run in three postseason games and outscored opponents 22-1 in that span. The Wingers have limited their mistakes as well and played flawless defense behind Garner, who entered the game with an 8-0 record and ERA of 1.34.
John Marshall had just two base runners in the game and one got caught off first base on a strong throw from Red Wing senior catcher David Goggin.
The Wingers got to watch the Rockets play Thursday and used the intelligence it gathered for Saturday’s game.
“That's why Zach was so effective today, just being able to watch their hitters Thursday,” Goggin said. “Zach has a great curveball and we threw probably 50 percent curveballs, which is way more than we did all season. He was just successful with that. That's why his fastball was so good and he got looking strikeouts.”
Even when things seemed headed in the wrong direction for Red Wing it worked out. In the second inning John Marshall had Newman caught in a rundown, but the throw back to first base hit Newman and he slid in safely.
Red Wing chose the theme “unfinished business” at the start of the season after reaching the Section 1AAA Final Four for the first time since 1991. Now it appears the Wingers are close to concluding their business with Section 1AAA.
“That's what's great about our team,” Stegora said. “If I strikeout I've got guys right behind me to pick me up. There's not a single weak spot on our team in the field or in the batting order.”
John Marshall will need to defeat Red Wing twice Tuesday in order to deny the Wingers a trip to state. The section championship will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Red Wing. The winner of the section title game will face the Section 3AAA champion at the state tournament June 14 at Midway Stadium in St. Paul.