When the bats of the New Richmond Millers are hot, the Millers can be a challenge for any team in the St. Croix Valley Baseball League.
But when the bats aren’t hot, it puts an immense burden on the pitching staff to carry the team.
The Millers showed what they can do when the bats are cooking on Friday. They defeated Ellsworth for the first time in more than a decade, notching their first St. Croix Valley Baseball League win of the season, 11-7. But the bats were on ice when the Millers made their 2019 home debut on Sunday at Citizens Field, losing to Menomonie 5-2.
Millers veteran Jon Will has been a member of the team since 2007. Friday’s win was the first time he’s experienced a win against Ellsworth.
The Millers generated 12 hits in the win. Caleb Manecke was a force at the plate. He finished with three hits and he drove home seven of the team’s 11 runs.
Manecke got the offense rolling, blasting a three-run homer in the first inning. He drove home Jake Jirik, who singled, and Blake Kretovics, who walked. Manecke drove home Jirik and Kretovics again in the fifth inning, this time with a double. Brock Luehman produced a sacrifice fly that scored Manecke.
Ellsworth was matching the Millers run-for-run until the sixth inning. Singles by Will, Jirik and Jaryd Marks loaded the bases. Manecke struck again, this time with a two-run single, and the Millers were ahead for good. They added one run in the seventh and two in the eighth, capped by a Luehman double.
Pitching depth suddenly became an issue on Friday. Grant Riemenschneider was scheduled to start, but he injured a knee late in the week. Lane Christensen got the start, but was knocked out in the second inning. Marks came to the rescue, giving up one run over the next four innings.
“That was the game saver,” Millers manager Ryan Stephens said of Marks’ pitching.
Dante LaDuke handled the final three innings.
Coleman Roskam started on the mound for the Millers on Sunday. He showed good velocity, allowing single runs in the first and sixth innings. He allowed 12 hits, but wriggled out of jams again and again.
LaDuke pitched the final three innings. Menomonie finally capitalized on its baserunners, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth inning. The Millers got one run back in the bottom of the inning, when Manecke singled home Kretovics, but it wasn’t enough.
Kretovics had three hits, but the rest of the New Richmond lineup was limited to two hits.
The Millers are 1-2 in the SCVBL. Menomonie and River Falls lead the league with 3-0 records. The Millers will take on the second of the co-leaders this Friday when they host the River Falls Fighting Fish at 8 p.m. at Citizens Field. The Millers have a non-league game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, when they play at Anoka.