Amateur Baseball: Buck's blast sparks Aces comeback
LAKE CITY – For 90 minutes, Lake City had Red Wing on the ropes. The Serpents had a three-run lead, and the Aces had trouble getting a key hit, leaving five runners in scoring position through the first seven innings.
The trouble for Lake City is that baseball is a nine-inning game.
In the top of the eighth, Red Wing again got guys on base. But this time, the key hit came. And it went.
Ty Buck’s grand slam propelled the Aces to an eight-run frame and an 8-4 victory on Monday at Bill Kieffer Field.
“It came down to throwing strikes. Once you can’t throw strikes, the umpires won’t give you anything close, and then it gets tougher and tougher,” said Serpents manager Scott Gwaltney. “We had a really, really close pitch to Buck (that was called a ball), and that made him go to 3-and-1, and you don’t want to go there with him. The bases were loaded, and what do you have to do? You have to throw it down the middle. And he hit it out. That’s the difference in the game. That was four runs right there.”
Buck’s drive cleared the left-center field fence, into a slight breeze. And it came with two outs.
Dave Jenson led off the inning with a single, and advanced to third on two groundouts. Dixon Irwin then coaxed a walk, and both runners advanced after a balk was called. Red Wing had its first run, and all the life it brought with it.
“I think we’ve had some issues in the past where we get down and we seem to give up and our heads hang. Today was the first time we really didn’t. We stayed in it the whole game,” said Aces manager/first baseman Jimmy Bohmbach. “We got some bad luck with our infield in that they blooped one over for a hit that scored a run. Little things like that that we could have hung our heads, but we didn’t. They brought in a new pitcher, and he was a little wild, and we were patient for the first time in the day, and we end up scoring eight runs. Hopefully that carries over, that we have the ability to score runs in one inning. We just have to stay patient and play all nine innings.”
Spencer Schroeder’s walk followed Irwin’s, and Irwin would score on a single from Adam Thygesen who, along with Schroeder and Josh Thygesen would come around on Buck’s home run. Bohmbach walked on six pitches, and Jenson came through with a double.
The Serpents could have ended the inning there, but an error in center field allowed Kyle Blahnik to reach base and Bohmbach and Jenson to score.
Austin Baab knocked in Luke Hartzell in the bottom of the ninth, but Lake City was set down in order after that.
Schroeder started the game for Red Wing, throwing six innings and allowing three earned runs on eight hits. Isaac Oeltjen pitched the seventh and eighth while Aaron Stoneberg took the ninth.
“That was Spencer’s first start and he threw six innings and only let up three runs. He battled. He gave up one run right away and then settled down. And then Isaac came in and shut the door. That was Isaac’s first win for the Aces. He gave us a chance to come back,” Bohmbach said.
Lake City used five pitchers in chasing the elusive victory with Kyle Sursely taking the loss after giving up five runs in 2/3 of an inning. It was exactly what Gwaltney didn’t want to see.
“We pieced it together with the pitching that we had. And we tried to give everyone a field day. And we got caught up in it and we were winning, and we thought we had the right pitcher in. It just didn’t work out,” Gwaltney said, adding, “I was trying not to use too many pitchers, but then I had to bring some in. I used the guy I wanted to start Wednesday.”
Wednesday is the start of the playoffs for the Serpents, the continuation of an unexpectedly successful season.
“We had a better season than I anticipated,” Gwaltney said. “We’ve played well, you just always expect a little bit more. To come up short on a game like this. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was a one-run game. But we gave a lot of runs away, and that’s what makes it hurt.”
Kelby Halling had an RBI single in the first for Lake City (10-10), and Zachary Wolfe and Hunter Baab did the same in the sixth. The Serpents will head to Cannon Falls to face the Bears in the first round of the Class C Classic Cannon Valley League playoffs.
The Aces (11-12) have three regular season games remaining. On Tuesday, Red Wing will host the Minneapolis Angels, then welcome Bay City on Friday. On Sunday, the Aces will head to Hastings for their final CCVL game before a three-game Section 1B playoff series against Northfield that begins August 9.
“We have to start planning backwards for who to start for the first game (of the playoffs),” Bohmbach said. “We have to plan for (Northfield).”
Cannon Falls 2, Red Wing 1
Red Wing took an early advantage, but Cannon Falls rallied in the eighth and ninth innings to pick up a 2-1 Classic Cannon Valley League victory against the Aces Friday at John Burch Park.
Finishing with just four hits, Tanner Jackson and Ryan Brintnall each drove in runs for the Bears. Catcher Taylor Pagel finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. On the mound, Keith Meyers picked up the victory after striking out four and giving up just two hits and zero walks in four innings of relief.
Steve Boldt was Red Wing’s top hitter, going 2-for-4 with a double. Kyle Blahnik and Adam Thygesen each had a hit, and Josh Thygesen scored the team’s lone run in the top of the first inning. Brady Schroeder went 7 2/3 innings to start the game, giving up two hits, six walks and a run with two strikeouts. Sam Palmatier took the loss after throwing 2/3 of an inning in relief.