Baseball: Ellsworth sours Red Wing's regular season finale
Ellsworth was perfectly content spoiling Red Wing's final home game Tuesday night at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
The seventh-ranked (Division 2) Panthers came out swinging and racked up 14 hits in a 9-3 victory, putting the 20th-ranked (Class 3A) Wingers on their heels from the first inning.
"We caught too much plate early in the game," Red Wing co-head coach Paul Hartmann said. "We've got to execute better. But you got to give them credit, they battled with two strikes."
James Georgakas also threw six solid innings for Ellsworth, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out six.
"I was feeling pretty good," Georgakas said. "My curveball was working pretty good. I just wanted to come out and win. I haven't won here yet."
"He competed well," Panthers' head coach Steve Block added. "He was focused. That's the kind of focus you need at tournament time."
Ellsworth struggled at the plate in a 1-0 loss to Prescott last week, but the Panthers strung together good at-bats on Tuesday and had multiple hits with two strikes.
"We got beat last week against Prescott," Block said. "It was a humbling experience. We've worked really hard. ... But hitting is contagious. Once things get rolling, they all believe they can do it."
Dennis Schutz went 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and an RBI, Tyler Marson was 2-for-4 with a triple and Isaac Hines finished 2-for-4 with three RBI to lead Ellsworth (12-2). Chandler Flynn went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored in the victory.
The Wingers (6-10) were led by Michael Bigelbach, who went 1-for-3 with a solo home run leading off the fourth inning, and Preston Blaney, who finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Ricky Turcotte was 2-for-3.
Nick Taranto got the Panthers going in the top of the first inning with a single, and Schutz followed with a double down the left-field line. Georgakas brought in Taranto with one of his two sacrifice flies on Tuesday night to grab a 1-0 lead.
Then, in the second inning, Ellsworth racked up four singles and used an error by Red Wing to take a 4-0 lead and force the Wingers to make a pitching change.
The Panthers scored two more runs on three hits in the third inning to secure complete control of the game at 6-0. Red Wing fought back with two runs in the fourth inning - an inning that included a special moment where senior standout Ryan Boldt entered the game as a pinch runner despite being on crutches - but Ellsworth added another run in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth inning for a 9-2 lead.
Blaney scored the final run of the game for the Wingers on a sacrifice fly by Trey Eckstrom in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"There's a little pride," Block said. "We've had some unbelievably close ones over here and we didn't come out on top."
Red Wing will regroup and prepare for Thursday's Section 1AAA first-round matchup, Hartmann said. Seeding will be announced Wednesday. "(The Panthers) were the better team tonight," Hartmann said. "Our focus is on Thursday. All our energy is on the first round of playoffs."
The top-seeded Panthers receive a bye during the first round of the Division 2 playoffs and will not play until Tuesday against the winner of Bloomer and Black River Falls. Ellsworth will face Hudson Thursday in a non-conference matchup, schedules permitting.