Amateur Baseball: Aces come back to best Bears
If ever there was a time the Red Wing Aces needed its young players to step up, Sunday was that time.
Hosting the Cannon Falls Bears for a Classic Cannon Valley League game at the Red Wing Athletic Field, the Aces appeared dead to rights when Cannon Falls scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to go up 7-2.
Three straight singles later, Red Wing was back in business. Then, Mitch Matter and Cole Kelly came up with back-to-back two-run hits to complete an improbable comeback for an 8-7 victory.
“Josh (Thygesen) and I were joking about being the veterans on the team, the two guys who've been here the longest and we were the only two guys who recorded outs that inning,” said Aces' manager Jimmy Bohmbach. “It was all the young guys that came through. Hopefully they can learn from this and know you can never give up. If you can get a few hits and get momentum on your side, something like that can happen.”
The comeback started with three straight singles from Tait Kelly, Spencer Schroeder and Brodie Smith, who drove in Tait with his base knock.
The ninth-inning spurt was hardly an aberration. The threesome combined for eight of the team's 13 hits, with Tait and Spencer both going 3-for-4.
“We got runners on base early and everyone clutched up after that,” Spencer said. “People were coming up with big hits when they needed to and that's what you need to do to win games.”
Adam Thygesen drove in Spencer, and Brady Schroeder loaded the bases. Bohmbach was unable to come through with a pop-up to first base, leaving the game in Matter's hands. Matter delivered with a two-run double that brought Smith and Adam, setting the scene for Cole. Cole responded by driving a Carter Dombeck pitch to the outfield for the walk-off double.
“JT Cunningham was coaching first base at that moment and he was getting me fired up. As soon as I heard him riled up, I knew it was a big moment. It was fun to come through,” said Cole, who came in during the eighth inning to spell catcher Dixon Irwin. “I got the fortunate part to come up for that last at-bat, but I have no doubt anyone else would have come through there.
“We waited until the last minute to get things rolling. The good news is with baseball, you can fail seven out of 10 times and be a great ball player. Maybe some guys weren't coming around until the last inning but really caught fire. We got through in the last inning and made things happen.”
For the Bears, it was a big of a shell shock after leading by five with three outs to go. With Brock Peterson and Alex Tauer getting on with back-to-back Aces errors, Brandon Voth brought Peterson in with a sacrifice fly. Then Rich Burr had a two-run double, and Peter Haggerty brought home Burr with a single to make it 7-2.
“Both teams swung the bats today. It was a weird day, a weird day,” said Cannon Falls manager Ryan Brintnall. “You don't ever expect it, but in the game of baseball, you learn to understand it. Today was just one of those days.”
Peterson got the Bears on the board in the first inning after scoring on a Voth two-out single. Two more runs came for Cannon Falls in the fourth with back-to-back successful suicide squeeze bunts from Zeke Williams and Peterson.
“It's a fun baseball game if you're an Aces guy,” Brintnall said, “and if you're a Bears guy, you're going to sit on the bench and wonder a little bit more.”
Matter scored Red Wing's first run in the second after getting home on a single by Tait. Spencer plated another run in the fourth when he and Smith completed a double steal.
“We are definitely a young team and we do have our growing pains,” Spencer said. “We're playing good baseball and that's all that counts.”
On Wednesday, the Aces will host the Hudson River Rats before three straight road games against Hastings (Sunday), Miesville (Monday) and River Falls (July 6). Cannon Falls is at home Wednesday against the Bay City Bombers.