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Amateur Baseball: Red Wing gets combined shutout of Eau Claire

Red Wing second baseman Steve Boldt throws out a runner at first during Tuesday's 2-0 victory against Eau Claire at the Red Wing Athletic Field. (Republican Eagle photo by Chris Harrell)1 / 3
Red Wing's Mike Stegora swings at a pitch during Tuesday's game against Eau Claire. The Aces won 2-0. (Republican Eagle photo by Chris Harrell)2 / 3
Red Wing shortstop Kyle Blahnik plants to field a ground ball during Tuesday's 2-0 victory against Eau Claire. Blahnik threw out the runner at first on the play. (Republican Eagle Photo by Chris Harrell)3 / 3

The weather was hot Tuesday night as the offenses went cold.

Aaron Johnson and Andy Gibart combined to throw a shutout for Red Wing against Eau Claire and the Aces’ seven hits were enough to pick up the 2-0 victory at the Red Wing Athletic Field.

“We really didn’t throw much off-speed,” Red Wing co-manager/catcher Jimmy Bohmbach said. “(The Cavaliers) weren’t able to square up any balls and hit them well because we were hitting the corners so well.”

Johnson threw six innings, allowing two hits and striking out three to move to 6-1 this season. Gibart pitched the final three innings, allowing two hits and one walk while tallying one strikeout for the save.

“Sure enough, Gibby comes in and shuts them down too,” Bohmbach said. “He was saying that’s the best his arm has felt all year. It’s a good sign when you get Aaron to throw that well and then you can have Gibby come in and throw that well too.”

Zach Laffey, Zach Garner and Bohmbach provided all of Red Wing’s offense in Tuesday’s victory. Laffey laced a two-run home run in the fourth inning, Garner was 2-for-4 with a double and Bohmbach was 2-for-4 with a run scored.

The Cavaliers were led by Ladarrius Cole, who went 2-for-4. Eau Claire only had four hits and just two runners made it past first base. Cale Ross scattered seven hits and one walk in seven innings, giving up two runs and picking up two strikeouts in the loss.

Johnson was in control from the first inning, allowing one runner to reach base in the first five innings. He threw 64 pitches in the win as the game was completed in roughly 1 hour, 32 minutes.

“We just wanted to have him come out and throw five innings,” Bohmbach said of Johnson. “He was throwing so well, we had to throw him another inning just because he was getting such quick innings. He was getting strikes and they weren’t hitting it.”

The Aces (24-5) looked poised to take a lead in the first inning as Mike Stegora walked with one out and stole second but he ran to third on a ground ball to shortstop and was thrown out.

“It was one of those early inning mistakes that didn’t cost us,” Gibart said.

After a single by Bohmbach put runners on the corners, Laffey hit into a fielder’s choice and ended the threat.

In the fourth inning, Bombach led off with a single and Laffey got out in front of an off-speed pitch from Ross, clobbering a low line drive that cleared the fence in right field for the only runs of the game.

“Laffey’s power is that trump card for us when we need it,” Gibart said. “It’s all we need sometimes with our pitching.”

Gibart entered to pitch in the seventh inning and immediately ran into trouble; the Cavaliers only major offensive opportunity in the game. Tyler Duex walked and Cole singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. But Brian Burman hit a hard line drive back at Gibart, who reacted before getting hit, caught the ball and threw Duex out at second base for a double play. Then, Kyle Comer grounded out for the third out of the inning.

Brett Vavra doubled to lead off the ninth inning for Eau Claire and reached third with two outs before Cole flew out to centerfield to end the game.

The victory moved Red Wing to 19-1 at the Ath and the Aces will face St. Francis Friday at home before traveling to take on Hastings Sunday in an important Section 1B matchup.

“We want to keep pushing Friday because Sunday is a huge game,” Gibart said. “We still have a chance for a No. 1 seed depending on how things shake out with the other games. Sunday is a huge game; it’s a must-win for us to have a chance at that bye.”

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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