PEPIN -- Plum City got every break Monday night against rival Pepin -- including one that may hamstring the Blue Devils the rest of the season. The end result was an easy 14-1 victory in five innings over the Lakers that continues Plum City's tumultuous season.
The win sends the Blue Devils to 7-8 overall and 5-4 in the Dunn-St. Croix. However, they started the season with five straight wins and have scuffled their way to just two wins in their last 10 games.
"We got back on track, hopefully," Plum City pitcher Adam Churchill said.
After racing to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Churchill saw Pepin leadoff man Josh Murray lay down a bunt. The Plum City hurler jumped off the mound to retrieve it, but slipped as he turned to fire, sending it into right field. Murray took second on the play and soon tried to steal third.
Catcher Zach Daleiden's throw beat Murray to the bag and third baseman Dana Derricks put the tag on the speedy Laker. His left arm made contact with Murray's knee during the slide, sending the ball and glove flying into foul territory and Derricks to the ground in pain.
Sensing an opportunity, Pepin coach Tony Garner sent Murray home -- only to see Derricks jump up, retrieve the ball and fire to the plate, nailing Murray in a rundown.
Derricks then left the game and was taken to the hospital via ambulance with what appeared to be a broken arm.
"He was in a lot of pain so I didn't think he'd be able to throw, but he hopped right up and made the throw," Garner said. "It probably wasn't the wisest choice to send him."
That set the tone for the night, as Plum City assumed full control with a seven-run second inning fueled, in part, by four Laker errors. Two walks and a hit batter by Laker starter Kevin Haglund further added to the trouble, though Shawn Ingli -- who entered in place of Derricks, Josh Ike and Adam Churchill -- added RBI singles before Joe Marcks came on in relief.
Trailing 9-0 with the bases full, Marcks walked Kevin Anderson to force in a run and bring Blue Devil slugger Chris Biederman to the plate. Biederman came through with a two-run single before Marcks got out of the inning.
"By this time of the year, we should be eliminating the walks and physical and mental errors," Garner said.
While miscues plagued the Lakers all game, Biederman also proved more than a nuisance. He ripped an RBI double off the left field fence in the first -- breaking out his home run trot a little early -- before taking care of business with the bases empty in the fourth inning.
Having fallen just short of clearing the fence at 320 feet, he went to the deepest part of the ballpark to record the only home run of the game in the fourth.
"He just reached out on a knuckleball and hit it 380," Garner said. "It was dancing when he connected on it, too."
Biederman finished 3-for-3 with a double, a homer and four RBI. He was left in the on-deck circle in the fifth when the third out was recorded with runners on second and third.
His barrage at the plate made things easy for Churchill on the mound, though he didn't exactly need the help. The senior right-hander allowed six hits, walked none and struck out four -- including the final batter of the game -- while he also tallied two hits and three RBI at the plate.
Churchill was in trouble just once, besides in the first. In the second inning, with a comfortable 12-0 lead, an error and three singles got the Lakers on the board and brought Murray to the plate with the bases full. Churchill quickly got two strikes, but Murray managed to work the count full. With two out and all three runners on the move, Murray waved at a high fastball to end the threat.
"I think he was pressing a little bit too much in that situation," Garner said. "That definitely would have turned the game around a little bit."
Plum City proved to be slick in the field, making Pepin earn all of its runs. The only Plum City miscue came in the second inning, when Biederman, who plays shortstop, ranged far into the hole to play a grounder. He unloaded a wild throw to first, but Jared Follansbee may have beaten it out anyway and no extra bases were gained.
The defensive play of the game came in the third when centerfielder Logan Radle made a diving catch of Jesse Seifert's sinking liner and rose to his feet to double Marcks, who had already rounded second, off first base.
It was just another example of how the Lakers found themselves on the short end of the stick again, falling to 2-9 overall and 2-7 in conference. Freshman Travis Heit recorded the lone RBI on the night, as Garner continues to look for improvement from a lineup that includes two freshmen and three sophomores. Their road isn't about to get easier, either, as they travel Thursday to conference-leading Elmwood.
Thursday's game with Spring Valley will also be interesting for the Blue Devils. With a roster of just 13 players, and Derricks expected to join freshman Luke Schladweiler on the injured list, the annual senior trip may prove especially taxing this year. The absence of four seniors -- Churchill, Anderson, Mike Daleiden and Zach Daleiden -- means the Blue Devils will either be forced to recruit two non-baseball players or reschedule the game.
Whatever the decision, Monday's performance left Churchill confident that his team can put together a run into the postseason.
"Hopefully we can finish strong," he said.
Brett Boese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org