Baseball: Wingers finish with a flourishRed Wing threw away the first play of the game in the Section 1AAA finals and staked Rochester John Marshall to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing threw away the first play of the game in the Section 1AAA finals and staked Rochester John Marshall to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
It was an ugly beginning for the Wingers but Red Wing made the ending count.
The Wingers scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning against John Marshall Tuesday to secure an 8-5 victory and their first trip to the state baseball tournament since 1977.
“We’re never down,” Red Wing head coach Jim Bohmbach said. “I love going to battle with every one of these guys. They work so darn hard and they all deserve it.”
Seniors Mike Stegora and David Goggin sparked the Wingers’ comeback and finished a combined 7-for-7 with seven RBI. Goggin was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI while Stegora went 4-for-4 with four RBI and an inside-the-park home run to tally Red Wing’s final two runs.
“I went back to basics,” Stegora said. “All week, I thought I was kind of slumping. I was finally seeing the ball well and things came together.”
Senior Dayton Johnson relieved senior Joel Newman to get the victory for the Wingers. Johnson threw three innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. He struck out three while ninth-grader Ty Buck got two strikeouts and finished off the game on a weak comebacker to pick up the save.
In Red Wing’s biggest game so far of this season, the Wingers’ speed again proved lethal.
Red Wing (22-1) took extra bases on multiple occasions and forced errant throws by being aggressive on the base paths.
“We ran, ran, ran,” Bohmbach said. “Even when we were down we knew we had to get something going. We just put pressure on guys all game.”
John Marshall (18-7) hit Newman hard in the first inning, putting up four quick runs thanks in part to the Wingers making an error to start the game.
“We kind of came out nervous,” Goggin said. “It wasn’t physical, it was all mental.”
Jacob Kirsch knocked in two runs on a single in the first inning and finished 2-for-4 with three RBI to lead John Marshall.
But Newman held on and fought his way through the next two innings to keep Red Wing in the game. He struck out three in the three innings.
“Joel’s a gamer,” Goggin said. “He didn’t let (the lead) get any bigger and that was huge. They swung at a lot more first pitches. I was surprised at that.”
In the third inning, the Wingers cut the deficit in half as Zach Garner and Boldt were knocked home on a single by Stegora. The runs gave the Wingers renewed energy.
“We knew once we scored those first two runs the game was ours,” Goggin said.
The next inning, John Marshall scored a run to take a 5-2 lead but Red Wing was given an opening to start the bottom of the fourth inning and pounced.
John Marshall’s third basemen dropped a pop-up with one out in the fourth inning to allow Buck on base. Garner followed with a fly out but three straight hits by Goggin, Boldt and Stegora tied the game at 5-5.
The next inning went quietly until the Wingers took control for good in the sixth inning with more help from John Marshall. Buck started the inning with a single and would have gotten picked off first base on a popped up bunt but John Marshall’s third baseman threw the double play attempt over the first baseman’s head allowing Buck to advance to second with one out.
Goggin proceeded to single in Buck to take a 6-5 lead and Boldt was intentionally walked. After Goggin was thrown out on a double steal by the Wingers, Stegora stepped to plate for his biggest at-bat of the night.
With Boldt on second base, Stegora sent a rocket high to center field. As the ball hit the outfield track, Stegora showed off his speed rounding second base and the decision to send him home was easy, Bohmbach said.
“As soon as the ball is hit, he’s gone,” he said. “He was on second before the ball even dropped.”
The runs sent the crowd into a frenzy at the Red Wing Athletic Field and Red Wing held on in the seventh inning to finish the tournament undefeated. They outscored opponents 30-6 in four games and will take part in their first state tournament in 35 years.
“We’ve got the entire town with us,” Goggin said. “We carried the burden and we like the pressure.”
Red Wing will play 14th-ranked Eastview in the first round of the Class 3A state baseball tournament at Midway Stadium in St. Paul next Thursday at 3 p.m.