Amateur Baseball: Red Wing bats struggle at stateST. CLOUD, Minn. – At the state tournament failing to do the little things gets magnified.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – At the state tournament failing to do the little things gets magnified.
Red Wing struggled with situational hitting and it led to a 3-2 loss against Mankato in the opening round of the Minnesota Baseball Association State Tournament at Joe Faber Field.
The Aces left eight runners on base, struck out 12 times and couldn’t get a bunt down twice with a runner on base.
“We didn’t capitalize and that’s what happens when you play a good ball club,” Red Wing co-manager/player Andy Gibart said. “You got to get those big hits and we didn’t.”
The Twins took the lead in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly from Jeremy Sudbeck that scored Tony Konicek from third. Konicek led off with a single, got to second on a bunt and Helget singled to move Konicek to third. Mankato had not scored a run since the first inning.
The offensive woes overshadowed starter Aaron Johnson’s performance for the Aces. Johnson overcame a shaky first inning to throw all eight innings. Johnson allowed three runs on eight hits, struck out five and walked one.
The Twins took a 2-0 lead in the first inning after the first two hitters reached base against Johnson. Pitcher Danny Miller led off with a walk and went from first to third when left fielder Dave Jenson bobbled a single. Miller scored on a sacrifice fly from Jay Nessler. Tony Konicek scored on Steven Helget’s single.
“Aaron battled after that two-run inning,” Gibart said. “Aaron did everything he could and we left a lot of guys on base.”
Johnson settled in after the first inning and held Mankato scoreless for the next seven innings.
“Something clicked after that first batter,” Johnson said. “I got that first strikeout and I just knew, ‘Keep pounding the strike zone and making pitches.’ That’s what happened.”
Red Wing cut the lead to 2-1 in the second inning when Adam Thygesen drove in Kyle Blahnik with a base hit.
The Aces tied it in the fourth on Zach Garner’s groundout. Jenson led off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Laffey.
But that’s all the scoring Red Wing got the rest of the way despite having several opportunities.
The Aces had chances to score in the fifth and the seventh. Steve Boldt singled in the fifth with one out and stole second base, but Red Wing failed to advance Boldt. Jimmy Bohmbach and Blahnik struck out to end the inning.
Thygesen led off the seventh with a double but Miller retired the next three hitters to keep the game tied.
Red Wing failed to get a bunt down in the ninth inning with a runner on first and no outs. The Aces also failed to capitalize on a bunt in the second inning with runners on first and second.
Miller had 11 strikeouts in the game and allowed two runs on six hits. Miller walked four hitters and found a way to keep Red Wing off-balance.
“At the beginning of the game he was throwing his curveball quite often so toward the end of the game he started changing it up, throwing his fastball more,” Bohmbach said. “I think it was kind of keeping us off-guard. We were expecting curveball. We just didn’t get the bat on the ball.”
Thygesen went 2-for-5 with an RBI and Boldt finished 2-for-4. Zach Laffey and Jenson had the other hits for the Aces.
Helget had four of Mankato’s eight hits and an RBI and Konicek went 2-for-4.
Red Wing will face Sauk Rapids, which lost 2-1 to Chaska, today in Cold Spring at 1:30 p.m. and face the same situation they did at the Super Section tournament.
“We’ve faced adversity all season,” Johnson said. “It’s just a little harder for us, but I think we can definitely do it.”