Baseball: Tauer, Wingers lock down Byron in 1AAA opener
Five days since its last game, there was some pause as to how Red Wing would open the Section 1AAA playoffs.
“You get into a routine in the spring season, playing every other day or third day,” said Wingers' head coach Paul Hartmann. “With that many days off, you wonder what kind of performance you'll get out of your guys.”
The way Teddy Tauer was throwing in Saturday's opening-round game against eight-seeded Byron, concern dissipated rather quickly for top-seeded Red Wing.
The junior lefty limited the visiting Bears to one hit and no walks while striking out nine in a 6-0 victory at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
“Teddy (Lillico, the team's catcher) was calling a great game and I knew with a great defense behind me, all I had to do was throw strikes,” said Tauer, who completed all seven innings on just 83 pitches. “Thankfully, I did that.”
Byron's lone hit came from its second batter of the game as Sean LaPlante hit an opposite-field single just out of the reach of Wingers' right fielder Tyler DeFore. After that, the only other Bears player to reach base was Nick Stienessen on a fielding error.
“After the first inning, I knew Teddy was zoned in,” said Red Wing third baseman Seth Yeatman. “I told him between innings that we were running out of Ks on the scoreboard. He was zoned in today.”
Mixing up his delivery while working in and out, Byron's hitters never figured out Tauer as six of his strikeouts were with batters looking.
“I tried to trick them a little bit and give them some different looks so they didn't get comfortable in the box,” Tauer said.
In the second, a heads-up play by courtesy runner David Howe boosted the Wingers' offense. After Zach Harding hit a grounder to third base, Howe's head-first slide managed to avoid the Byron fielder, putting runners on second and third with one out. In the next at-bat, Yeatman connected with an opposite-field double that scored Howe and Grant Rolen. Red Wing added another run when DeFore hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Harding.
“On a play where the guy was unsure if he was going to first or third, David did an outstanding job and showed some athleticism there,” Hartmann said. “That was a big play in the ball game.”
Three more runs came across in the sixth, starting with an error that allowed Rolen to reach home and a grounder from Brodie Smith that plated Zach Harding. Smith scored the final run while the Bears were trying to throw out a runner.
“We came into the game knowing we were the better team and we had to play our brand of baseball,” said Yeatman, who reached base on all four of his at-bats, going 2-for-2.
Tauer added, “It's great to get the momentum rolling. Now we're feeling confident we can win it all.”
The next step for the Wingers will come at 1:30 p.m. Monday when fourth-seeded Kasson-Mantorville comes to the Ath. The KoMets reached the second round after a 1-0 win against fifth-seeded Albert Lea on Saturday. The winner of Monday's game will play on June 3 back in Red Wing while the loser will play again at 4 p.m. Monday.